Patent application title: LIVER SCREENING METHOD
Antonin De Fougerolles (Brookline, MA, US)
Tatiana Novobrantseva (Wellesley, MA, US)
Tatiana Novobrantseva (Wellesley, MA, US)
Anna Borodovsky (Cambridge, MA, US)
Anna Borodovsky (Cambridge, MA, US)
Akin Akinc (Needham, MA, US)
Mark Tracy (Cambridge, MA, US)
IPC8 Class: AC12Q168FI
Class name: Chemistry: molecular biology and microbiology measuring or testing process involving enzymes or micro-organisms; composition or test strip therefore; processes of forming such composition or test strip involving nucleic acid
Publication date: 2011-02-24
Patent application number: 20110045473
Patent application title: LIVER SCREENING METHOD
Antonin De Fougerolles
LANDO & ANASTASI, LLP;A2038
Origin: CAMBRIDGE, MA US
IPC8 Class: AC12Q168FI
Publication date: 02/24/2011
Patent application number: 20110045473
The invention features a method of identifying therapeutically relevant
compositions that include a therapeutic agent and a delivery component by
screening for an effect of the agent on the liver of a model subject.
1. A method of evaluating a composition comprising a dsRNA that targets
Factor VII and a delivery component comprising:providing a composition
comprising (i) a dsRNA that targets Factor VII, and (ii) a delivery
component;administering the composition to a test animal; andevaluating
the expression of the Factor VII gene,thereby evaluating the composition.
2. The method of claim 1, wherein evaluating the expression of the Factor VII gene comprises determining Factor VII protein levels.
3. The method of claim 2, wherein determining protein levels is done by determining Factor VII activity.
4. The method of claim 1, wherein evaluating expression of the target gene comprises determining Factor VII mRNA levels.
5. The method of claim 2, wherein the level of Factor VII protein in blood is determined.
6. The method of claim 4, wherein the level of Factor VII mRNA in liver is determined.
7. The method of claim 1, further comprising comparing expression of the Factor VII gene with a preselected reference value.
8. The method of claim 1, wherein the composition further comprises one or more of a lipid containing component, a viral containing component, a polymer containing component, a peptide containing component, an exosome, or a bacterially-derived, intact minicell.
9. The method of claim 1, wherein the test animal is a rodent.
10. The method of claim 1, wherein the test animal is a mouse.
11. The method of claim 1, wherein the composition reduces FVII protein or mRNA levels in the blood.
12. The method of claim 1, wherein the composition reduces FVII protein or mRNA levels in the liver.
13. The method of claim 8, wherein the lipid containing component is a liposome.
14. The method of claim 13, wherein the liposome comprises one of more of a cationic lipid, a targeting moiety, a fusogenic lipid, or a PEGylated lipid.
15. The method of claim 14, wherein the cationic lipid is an amino lipid.
16. The method of claim 13, wherein the liposome further comprises a structural moiety.
17. The method of claim 16, wherein the structural moiety is cholesterol.
This application claims the benefit of priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 61/018,616, filed Jan. 2, 2008; U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 61/018,611 filed Jan. 2, 2008; and U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 61/018,627, filed Jan. 2, 2008.
BACKGROUND OF INVENTION
Many important proteins are produced in the liver and released into circulation. FVII, which is synthesized in liver hepatocytes and is secreted into the plasma, is an example. Factor VII (FVII) is involved in coagulation. Upon blood vessel injury, tissue factor (TF), located on the outside of vessels, is exposed to the blood and circulating FVII. Once bound to TF, FVII is activated to FVIIa by various proteases, including thrombin (factor IIa), activated factor X and the FVIIa-TF complex itself. In addition to its role in initiating coagulation, the TF/FVIIa complex has been reported to have direct proinflammatory effects independent of the activation of coagulation.
SUMMARY OF INVENTION
In one aspect, the invention features a method of evaluating a composition that includes an agent, e.g., a therapeutic agent or diagnostic agent, and a delivery component. The method includes providing a composition that includes an agent, e.g., an RNA-based construct that targets a selected target gene, e.g., a gene expressed in the liver, and a delivery component; administering the composition to a test animal; and evaluating the expression of the target gene, thereby evaluating the composition.
The method allows evaluating a delivery component for its suitability for delivering an agent, such as, a nucleic acid-based agent, e.g., an RNA-based construct, such as a dsRNA, that targets a gene expressed in the liver.
In a preferred embodiment the method includes evaluating the level of expression of the target gene, such as by evaluating the level of a protein encoded by the target gene, e.g., by evaluating the level of protein activity. The value for expression can be compared with a preselected reference value, and if a determined value has a preselected relationship with the reference value, e.g., if it is less than or equal to the reference value, then the determined value is indicative of suitability, e.g., of a preselected level of suitability.
In a preferred embodiment the target gene is a gene expressed in the liver, e.g., the Factor VII (FVII) gene. The effect of the expression of the target gene, e.g., FVII, is evaluated by measuring FVII levels in a biological sample, such as a serum or tissue sample. For example, the level of FVII, e.g., as measured by assay of FVII activity, in blood can be determined. In a preferred embodiment the level of mRNA in the liver can be evaluated. In a preferred embodiment at least two types of evaluation are made, e.g., an evaluation of protein level (e.g., in blood or plasma), and a measure of mRNA level (e.g., in the liver) are both made.
In a preferred embodiment the agent is combined with a delivery component and the effect (e.g., on the expression of the target gene in the liver) of the composition is evaluated.
Exemplary delivery components include lipid containing components (e.g., liposomes), viral containing components (e.g., vectors), polymer containing components (e.g., biodegradable polymers or dendrimers), and peptide containing components (e.g., a penetration peptide), exosomes, and bacterially-derived, intact minicells. In a preferred example the delivery component includes more than one component. For example, it can include one or more lipid moieties, one or more peptides, one or more polymers, one or more viral vectors, or a combination thereof
In a preferred embodiment, the delivery component is an association complex such as a liposome. A liposome generally includes a plurality of components such as one or more of a cationic lipid (e.g., an amino lipid), a targeting moiety, a fusogenic lipid, a PEGylated lipid. In some embodiments, the PEG-lipid is a targeted PEG-lipid. For example, a liposome can include a nucleic acid and an amine-lipid and a PEGylated lipid. In some embodiments, the PEG-lipid is a targeted PEG-lipid. In some embodiments, the preparation also includes a structural moiety such as cholesterol. In some embodiments, the nucleic acid is a dsRNA. For example, the nucleic acid is a dsRNA that has been modified to resist degradation, the nucleic acid is a dsRNA that has been modified by modification of the polysaccharide backbone, or the dsRNA targets Factor VII.
In one embodiment, the nucleic acid agent is a single-stranded DNA or RNA, or double-stranded DNA or RNA, or DNA-RNA hybrid. For example, a double-stranded DNA can be a structural gene, a gene including control and termination regions, or a self-replicating system such as a viral or plasmid DNA. A double-stranded RNA can be, e.g., a dsRNA or another RNA interference reagent. A single-stranded nucleic acid can be, e.g., an antisense oligonucleotide, ribozyme, microRNA, or triplex-forming oligonucleotide.
In another embodiment, the test subject is a mammal, such as a rodent, e.g., a mouse or rat, a rabbit, a dog, or a nonhuman primate.
In yet another embodiment, at various time points after administration of a candidate agent, a biological sample, such as a fluid sample, e.g., blood, plasma, or serum, or a tissue sample, such as a liver sample, is taken from the test subject and tested for an effect of the agent on target protein or mRNA expression levels. In one particularly preferred embodiment, the candidate agent is a dsRNA that targets FVII, and the biological sample is tested for an effect on FVII protein or mRNA levels. In one embodiment, blood or plasma levels of FVII protein are assayed, such as by using an immunohistochemistry assay or a chromogenic assay. In another embodiment, levels of FVII mRNA in the liver are tested by an assay, such as a branched DNA assay, or a Northern blot or RT-PCR assay.
In a preferred embodiment, a composition, e.g., a composition including the agent and a delivery component, is evaluated for toxicity. In yet another embodiment, the test subject can be monitored for physical effects, such as by a change in weight or cageside behavior.
In yet another embodiment, the agent is combined with or conjugated to a lipophilic ligand, e.g., a cholesterol radical; a bile acid radical; a fatty acid radical (e.g., lithocholic-oleyl, lauroyl, docosnyl, stearoyl, palmitoyl, myristoyl, oleoyl, linoleoyl).
In another embodiment, the agent is combined with a targeting agent such as a folate moiety.
In a preferred embodiment the method further includes subjecting a candidate composition, e.g., a composition including the agent and a delivery component, to a further evaluation. The further evaluation can include, for example, (i) a repetition of the evaluation described above, (ii) a repetition of the evaluation described above with a different number of animals or with different doses, or (iii) by a different method, e.g., evaluation in another animal model, e.g., a non-human primate.
In another embodiment, a decision is made regarding whether or not to include the agent and delivery component in further studies, such as in a clinical trial, depending on the observed effect of the candidate agent on liver protein or mRNA levels. For example, if a dsRNA in combination with a candidate delivery component is observed to decrease protein or mRNA levels by at least 20%, 30%, 40%, 50%, or more, then the agent can be considered for a clinical trial.
In yet another embodiment, a decision is made regarding whether or not to include an agent and delivery component in a pharmaceutical composition, depending on the observed effect of the agent and component on liver protein or mRNA levels. For example, if a dsRNA is observed to decrease target protein or mRNA levels by at least 20%, 30%, 40%, 50%, or more, when associated with a particular delivery component, then the agent and delivery component can be considered, e.g., for a clinical trial.
In another aspect, the invention features a method of evaluating a candidate delivery component for its suitability for delivering an RNA-based construct, e.g., a dsRNA, that targets FVII. The method includes providing a composition that includes a dsRNA that targets FVII and a candidate delivery component, administering the composition to a rodent, e.g., a mouse, evaluating the expression of FVII as a function of at least one of the level of FVII in the blood or the level of FVII mRNA in the liver, thereby evaluating the candidate delivery component.
For convenience, the meaning of certain terms and phrases used in the specification, examples, and appended claims, are provided below. If there is an apparent discrepancy between the usage of a term in other parts of this specification and its definition provided in this section, the definition in this section shall prevail.
"G," "C," "A" and "U" each generally stand for a nucleotide that contains guanine, cytosine, adenine, and uracil as a base, respectively. However, it will be understood that the term "ribonucleotide" or "nucleotide" can also refer to a modified nucleotide, as further detailed below, or a surrogate replacement moiety. The skilled person is well aware that guanine, cytosine, adenine, and uracil may be replaced by other moieties without substantially altering the base pairing properties of an oligonucleotide including a nucleotide bearing such replacement moiety. For example, without limitation, a nucleotide including inosine as its base may base pair with nucleotides containing adenine, cytosine, or uracil. Hence, nucleotides containing uracil, guanine, or adenine may be replaced in the nucleotide sequences of the invention by a nucleotide containing, for example, inosine. Sequences including such replacement moieties are embodiments of the invention.
By "Factor VII" as used herein is meant a Factor VII mRNA, protein, peptide, or polypeptide. The term "Factor VII" is also known in the art as AI132620, Cf7, Coagulation factor VII precursor, coagulation factor VII, FVII, Serum prothrombin conversion accelerator, FVII coagulation protein, and eptacog alfa.
As used herein, "delivery component" refers to a substance that is combined with an agent, e.g., a therapeutic agent, for administration to a subject. Exemplary delivery components are described herein. Typically an agent and one or more delivery components are combined in a single formulation. Methods featured in the invention allow the evaluation of such formulations.
As used herein, "target sequence" refers to a contiguous portion of the nucleotide sequence of an mRNA molecule formed during the transcription of the gene, including mRNA that is a product of RNA processing of a primary transcription product.
As used herein, the term "strand including a sequence" refers to an oligonucleotide including a chain of nucleotides that is described by the sequence referred to using the standard nucleotide nomenclature.
As used herein, and unless otherwise indicated, the term "complementary," when used in the context of a nucleotide pair, means a classic Watson-Crick pair, i.e., GC, AT, or AU. It also extends to classic Watson-Crick pairings where one or both of the nuclotides has been modified as decribed herein, e.g., by a rbose modification or a phosphate backpone modification. It can also include pairing with an inosine or other entity that does not substantially alter the base pairing properties.
As used herein, and unless otherwise indicated, the term "complementary," when used to describe a first nucleotide sequence in relation to a second nucleotide sequence, refers to the ability of an oligonucleotide or polynucleotide including the first nucleotide sequence to hybridize and form a duplex structure under certain conditions with an oligonucleotide or polynucleotide including the second nucleotide sequence, as will be understood by the skilled person. Complementarity can include, full complementarity, substantial complementarity, and sufficient complementarity to allow hybridization under physiological conditions, e.g, under physiologically relevant conditions as may be encountered inside an organism. Full complementarity refers to complementarity, as defined above for an individual pair, at all of the pairs of the first and second sequence. When a sequence is "substantially complementary" with respect to a second sequence herein, the two sequences can be fully complementary, or they may form one or more, but generally not more than 4, 3 or 2 mismatched base pairs upon hybridization, while retaining the ability to hybridize under the conditions most relevant to their ultimate application. Substantial complementarity can also be defined as hybridization under stringent conditions, where stringent conditions may include: 400 mM NaCl, 40 mM PIPES pH 6.4, 1 mM EDTA, 50° C. or 70° C. for 12-16 hours followed by washing. The skilled person will be able to determine the set of conditions most appropriate for a test of complementarity of two sequences in accordance with the ultimate application of the hybridized nucleotides.
However, where two oligonucleotides are designed to form, upon hybridization, one or more single stranded overhangs, such overhangs shall not be regarded as mismatches with regard to the determination of complementarity. For example, a dsRNA including one oligonucleotide 21 nucleotides in length and another oligonucleotide 23 nucleotides in length, wherein the longer oligonucleotide includes a sequence of 21 nucleotides that is fully complementary to the shorter oligonucleotide, may yet be referred to as "fully complementary" for the purposes of the invention.
"Complementary" sequences, as used herein, may also include, or be formed entirely from, non-Watson-Crick base pairs and/or base pairs formed from non-natural and modified nucleotides, in as far as the above requirements with respect to their ability to hybridize are fulfilled.
The terms "complementary", "fully complementary", "substantially complementary" and sufficient complementarity to allow hybridization under physiological conditions, e.g, under physiologically relevant conditions as may be encountered inside an organism, may be used hereinwith respect to the base matching between the sense strand and the antisense strand of a dsRNA, or between the antisense strand of a dsRNA and a target sequence, as will be understood from the context of their use.
As used herein, a polynucleotide which is "complementary, e.g., substantially complementary to at least part of a messenger RNA (mRNA) refers to a polynucleotide which is complementary, e.g., substantially complementary, to a contiguous portion of the mRNA of interest (e.g., encoding Factor VII). For example, a polynucleotide is complementary to at least a part of a Factor VII mRNA if the sequence is substantially complementary to a non-interrupted portion of an mRNA encoding Factor VII.
The term "double-stranded RNA" or "dsRNA", as used herein, refers to a ribonucleic acid molecule, or complex of ribonucleic acid molecules, having a duplex structure including two anti-parallel and substantially complementary, as defined above, nucleic acid strands. The two strands forming the duplex structure may be different portions of one larger RNA molecule, or they may be separate RNA molecules. Where the two strands are part of one larger molecule, and therefore are connected by an uninterrupted chain of nucleotides between the 3'-end of one strand and the 5'end of the respective other strand forming the duplex structure, the connecting RNA chain is referred to as a "hairpin loop". Where the two strands are connected covalently by means other than an uninterrupted chain of nucleotides between the 3'-end of one strand and the 5'end of the respective other strand forming the duplex structure, the connecting structure is referred to as a "linker " The RNA strands may have the same or a different number of nucleotides. The maximum number of base pairs is the number of nucleotides in the shortest strand of the dsRNA. In addition to the duplex structure, a dsRNA may comprise one or more nucleotide overhangs. A dsRNA as used herein is also refered to as a "small inhibitory RNA," "siRNA," "siRNA agent," "iRNA agent" or "RNAi agent."
As used herein, a "nucleotide overhang" refers to the unpaired nucleotide or nucleotides that protrude from the duplex structure of a dsRNA when a 3'-end of one strand of the dsRNA extends beyond the 5'-end of the other strand, or vice versa. "Blunt" or "blunt end" means that there are no unpaired nucleotides at that end of the dsRNA, i.e., no nucleotide overhang. A "blunt ended" dsRNA is a dsRNA that is double-stranded over its entire length, i.e., no nucleotide overhang at either end of the molecule.
The term "antisense strand" refers to the strand of a dsRNA which includes a region that is substantially complementary to a target sequence. As used herein, the term "region of complementarity" refers to the region on the antisense strand that is substantially complementary to a sequence, for example a target sequence, as defined herein. Where the region of complementarity is not fully complementary to the target sequence, the mismatches are most tolerated in the terminal regions and, if present, are generally in a terminal region or regions, e.g., within 6, 5, 4, 3, or 2 nucleotides of the 5' and/or 3' terminus.
The term "sense strand," as used herein, refers to the strand of a dsRNA that includes a region that is substantially complementary to a region of the antisense strand.
The term "identity" is the relationship between two or more polynucleotide sequences, as determined by comparing the sequences. Identity also means the degree of sequence relatedness between polynucleotide sequences, as determined by the match between strings of such sequences. While there exist a number of methods to measure identity between two polynucleotide sequences, the term is well known to skilled artisans (see, e.g., Sequence Analysis in Molecular Biology, von Heinje, G., Academic Press (1987); and Sequence Analysis Primer, Gribskov., M. and Devereux, J., eds., M. Stockton Press, New York (1991)). "Substantially identical," as used herein, means there is a very high degree of homology (preferably 100% sequence identity) between the sense strand of the dsRNA and the corresponding part of the target gene. However, dsRNA having greater than 90%, or 95% sequence identity may be used in the present invention, and thus sequence variations that might be expected due to genetic mutation, strain polymorphism, or evolutionary divergence can be tolerated. Although 100% identity is preferred, the dsRNA may contain single or multiple base-pair random mismatches between the RNA and the target gene.
"Introducing into a cell", when referring to a dsRNA, means facilitating uptake or absorption into the cell, as is understood by those skilled in the art. Absorption or uptake of dsRNA can occur through unaided diffusive or active cellular processes, or by auxiliary agents or devices. The meaning of this term is not limited to cells in vitro; a dsRNA may also be "introduced into a cell," wherein the cell is part of a living organism. In such instance, introduction into the cell will include the delivery to the organism. For example, for in vivo delivery, dsRNA can be injected into a tissue site or administered systemically. In vitro introduction into a cell includes methods known in the art such as electroporation and lipofection.
The terms "silence" and "inhibit the expression of," in as far as they refer to the Factor VII gene, herein refer to the at least partial suppression of the expression of the Factor VII gene, as manifested by a reduction of the amount of mRNA transcribed from the Factor VII gene which may be isolated from a first cell or group of cells in which the Factor VII gene is transcribed and which has or have been treated such that the expression of the Factor VII gene is inhibited, as compared to a second cell or group of cells substantially identical to the first cell or group of cells but which has or have not been so treated (control cells). The degree of inhibition is usually expressed in terms of
( mRNA in control cells ) - ( mRNA in treated cells ) ( mRNA in control cells ) 100 % ##EQU00001##
Alternatively, the degree of inhibition may be given in terms of a reduction of a parameter that is functionally linked to Factor VII gene transcription, e.g. the amount of protein encoded by the Factor VII gene which is secreted by a cell, or the number of cells displaying a certain phenotype, e.g apoptosis. In principle, Factor VII gene silencing may be determined in any cell expressing the target, either constitutively or by genomic engineering, and by any appropriate assay. However, when a reference is needed in order to determine whether a given siRNA inhibits the expression of the Factor VII gene by a certain degree and therefore is encompassed by the instant invention, the assays provided in the Examples below shall serve as such reference.
For example, in certain instances, expression of the Factor VII gene is suppressed by at least about 20%, 25%, 35%, 40% or 50% by administration of the double-stranded oligonucleotide of the invention. In a preferred embodiment, the Factor VII gene is suppressed by at least about 60%, 70%, or 80% by administration of the double-stranded oligonucleotide of the invention. In a more preferred embodiment, the Factor VII gene is suppressed by at least about 85%, 90%, or 95% by administration of the double-stranded oligonucleotide of the invention.
The terms "treat", "treatment," and the like, refer to relief from or alleviation of a disease or disorder. In the context of the present invention insofar as it relates to any of the other conditions recited herein below (e.g., a Factor VII-mediated condition other than a thrombotic disorder), the terms "treat," "treatment," and the like mean to relieve or alleviate at least one symptom associated with such condition, or to slow or reverse the progression of such condition.
A "therapeutically relevant" composition can alleviate a disease or disorder, or a symptom of a disease or disorder when administered at an appropriate dose.
As used herein, the term "Factor VII-mediated condition or disease" and related terms and phrases refer to a condition or disorder characterized by inappropriate, e.g., greater than normal, Factor VII activity. Inappropriate Factor VII functional activity might arise as the result of Factor VII expression in cells which normally do not express Factor VII, or increased Factor VII expression (leading to, e.g., a symptom of a viral hemorrhagic fever, or a thrombus). A Factor VII-mediated condition or disease may be completely or partially mediated by inappropriate Factor VII functional activity. However, a Factor VII-mediated condition or disease is one in which modulation of Factor VII results in some effect on the underlying condition or disorder (e.g., a Factor VII inhibitor results in some improvement in patient well-being in at least some patients).
A "hemorrhagic fever" includes a combination of illnesses caused by a viral infection. Fever and gastrointestinal symptoms are typically followed by capillary hemorrhaging.
A "coagulopathy" is any defect in the blood clotting mechanism of a subject.
As used herein, a "thrombotic disorder" is any disorder, preferably resulting from unwanted FVII expression, including any disorder characterized by unwanted blood coagulation.
As used herein, the phrases "therapeutically effective amount" and "prophylactically effective amount" refer to an amount that provides a therapeutic benefit in the treatment, prevention, or management of a viral hemorrhagic fever, or an overt symptom of such disorder, e.g., hemorraging, fever, weakness, muscle pain, headache, inflammation, or circulatory shock. The specific amount that is therapeutically effective can be readily determined by ordinary medical practitioner, and may vary depending on factors known in the art, such as, e.g. the type of thrombotic disorder, the patient's history and age, the stage of the disease, and the administration of other agents.
As used herein, a "pharmaceutical composition" includes a pharmacologically effective amount of a dsRNA and a pharmaceutically acceptable carrier. As used herein, "pharmacologically effective amount," "therapeutically effective amount" or simply "effective amount" refers to that amount of an RNA effective to produce the intended pharmacological, therapeutic or preventive result. For example, if a given clinical treatment is considered effective when there is at least a 25% reduction in a measurable parameter associated with a disease or disorder, a therapeutically effective amount of a drug for the treatment of that disease or disorder is the amount necessary to effect at least a 25% reduction in that parameter.
The term "pharmaceutically acceptable carrier" refers to a carrier for administration of a therapeutic agent. Such carriers include, but are not limited to, saline, buffered saline, dextrose, water, glycerol, ethanol, and combinations thereof. The term specifically excludes cell culture medium. For drugs administered orally, pharmaceutically acceptable carriers include, but are not limited to pharmaceutically acceptable excipients such as inert diluents, disintegrating agents, binding agents, lubricating agents, sweetening agents, flavoring agents, coloring agents and preservatives. Suitable inert diluents include sodium and calcium carbonate, sodium and calcium phosphate, and lactose, while corn starch and alginic acid are suitable disintegrating agents. Binding agents may include starch and gelatin, while the lubricating agent, if present, will generally be magnesium stearate, stearic acid or talc. If desired, the tablets may be coated with a material such as glyceryl monostearate or glyceryl distearate, to delay absorption in the gastrointestinal tract.
As used herein, a "transformed cell" is a cell into which a vector has been introduced from which a dsRNA molecule may be expressed.
The invention provides a method of evaluating a delivery component for its suitability for delivering a nucleic acid-based agent, such as an RNA-based construct, to a cell or subject. The RNA-based construct is, for example, a dsRNA that targets a gene expressed in the liver, such as the FVII gene. The method includes providing a composition that includes a candidate delivery component and the RNA-based construct, administering the composition to a test animal, and evaluating the expression of the target gene. Preferably, if expression of the target gene is below a preselected value, then the delivery-based component is determined to be suitable for use, such as in further studies (e.g., in a clinical trial), or for use in a pharmaceutical composition.
Exemplary Candidate Delivery Components
Nucleic acid-based agents can be delivered with a variety of delivery components. Delivery components for testing in the liver screening model featured herein include any component suitable for delivery of a nucleic acid-based agent, e.g., an RNA-based construct, such as a dsRNA, which, e.g., targets a gene expressed in the liver. Exemplary delivery components include peptide containing components, collagen containing components, viral vector containing components, polymer containing components, and lipid containing components (e.g., cationic lipids, PEG containing lipids, etc.). In some embodiments, the delivery component includes a combination of one or more of the delivery components described above. Exemplary delivery components, which can be evaluated using a screening model described herein include, but are not limited to the following: Exosomes such as those described in US 20070298118; bacterially-derived, intact minicells, for example, as described in US 20070298056; complexes including RNA and peptides such as those described in US 20070293657; cationic lipids, non-cationic lipids, and lipophilic delivery-enhancing compounds such as those described in US 20070293449); Carbohydrate-Derivatized Liposomes (e.g., as described in US 20070292494); siRNA-hydrophilic polymer conjugates (e.g., as described in US 20070287681); lipid and polypeptide based systems such as those described in US 20070281900; organic cation containing systems such as those described in US 20070276134 and US 20070213257; cationic peptide containing systems such as those described in US 20070275923; polypeptide containing systems such as those disclosed in US 20060040882; virus-phage particle containing systems such as those described in US 20070274908; elastin-like polymer containing systems such as those described in US 20070265197; non-immunogenic, hydrophilic/cationic block copolymers such as those described in US 20070259828; carrier linked conjugate containing systems such as those described in US 20070258993; biodegradable cationic polymer containing systems such as those described in US 20070243157; chemically modified polycation polymer containing systems such as those described in US 20070231392; collagen containing systems such as those described in US 20070218038; glycopolymer-based particle containing systems such as those described in US 20070202076; biologically active block copolymer containing systems such as those described in US 20070155907; nanoparticle containing systems such as those described in US 20070155658; amphoteric liposome containing systems such as those described in US 20070104775; lipid carrier containing systems such as those described in US 20070087045; electroporation systems such as those described in US 20070059832; macromer-melt formulations such as those described in US 20070053954; liposome containing systems such as those described in US 20070042031 and US 20050002999 and US 20050002998; lipid based formulations such as those described in US 20060008910; US 20050014962; US 20060240093, US 20050064595, and US 20060083780; polymer conjugate containing systems such as those described in US 20070041932 and US 20050008617; hydrophobic nanotube and nanoparticle containing systems such as those described in US 20060275371; functional synthetic molecule and macromolecule containing systems such as those described in US 20060241071; polymeric micelle containing systems such as those disclosed in US 20060240092; sugar-modified liposome containing systems such as those described in US 20060193906; cyclic amidinium-containing systems such as those described in US 20060039860 and US 20030220289; peptide containing compositions such as those described in US 20060035815 and US 20050239687; viral vector containing systems such as those described in US 20060009408, US 20030157691, and tRNA vector systems such as those described in US 20050203047; nanocell drug delivery systems such as those described in US 20050266067; polymerized formamide containing systems such as those described in US 20050265957; intranasal delivery systems such as those described in US 20050265927; nanoparticle systems such as those described in US 20050260276; biodegradable polymer-peptide containing systems such as those described in US 20050191746 and biodegradable polyacetal containing systems such as those described in US 20050080033; biodegradable cationic polymer containing systems such as those described in US 20060258751; biodegradable poly(beta-amino ester) containing systems such as those described in US 20040071654; polyethyleneglycol-modified lipid containing systems such as those described in US 20050175682; virally-encoded RNA systems such as those described in US 20050171041, US 20040023390, US 20030138407; adenoviral vector systems such as those described in US 20040161848 and US 20040096843; carrier complex containing systems such as those described in US 20050158373; compositions comprising amphipathic compounds and polycations such as those described in US 20050143332, US 20040137064, and US 20030125281; delivery peptide and dendrimer containing compositions such as those described in US 20040204377; polyampholyte containing compositions such as those described in US 20040162235; microcapsule containing systems such as those described in US 20040115254, and formulations described in PCT/US2007/080331. Each of the references recited herein is incorporated by reference herein in its entirety.
In some preferred embodiments one or more of the delivery components can be formed into a particle such as a liposome or other association complex. The nucleic acid-based agent can be encapsulated or partially encapsulated in the particle delivery component. In some embodiments, the nucleic acid-based agent is admixed with one or more delivery components described herein.
In some embodiments, the nucleic acid-based agent is bound to a delivery component described herein. For example, the nucleic acid-based agent can be bound to a delivery component through hydrostatic interactions, ionic interactions, hydrogen bonding interactions or through a covalent bond.
In some embodiments, the nucleic acid-based agent is entrapped or entrained within a delivery component.
In some preferred embodiments, the delivery component evaluated using a screening method described herein is an association complex such as a liposome. Such association complexes can be used to administer a nucleic acid based therapy such as an RNA, for example a single stranded or double stranded RNA such as dsRNA.
The association complexes disclosed herein can be useful for packaging an oligonucleotide agent capable of modifying gene expression by targeting and binding to a nucleic acid. An oligonucleotide agent can be single-stranded or double-stranded, and can include, e.g., a dsRNA, aa pre-mRNA, an mRNA, a microRNA (miRNA), a mi-RNA precursor (pre-miRNA), plasmid or DNA, or to a protein. An oligonucleotide agent featured in the invention can be, e.g., a dsRNA, a microRNA, antisense RNA, antagomir, decoy RNA, DNA, plasmid and aptamer.
Association complexes can include a plurality of components. In some embodiments, an association complex such as a liposome can include an active ingredient such as a nucleic acid therapeutic (such as an oligonucleotide agent, e.g., dsRNA), a cationic lipid such as an amino lipid. In some embodiments, the association complex can include a plurality of therapeutic agents, for example two or three single or double stranded nucleic acid moieties targeting more than one gene or different regions of the same gene. Other components can also be included in an association complex, including a PEG-lipid or a structural component, such as cholesterol. In some embodiments the association complex also includes a fusogenic lipid or component and/or a targeting molecule. In some preferred embodiments, the association complex is a liposome including an oligonucleotide agent such as dsRNA, a lipid, a PEG-lipid, and a structural component such as cholesterol.
The term "cationic lipid" refers to a compound that includes one or more positively charged moieties such as an amine moiety and one or more lipid components (e.g., one, two, three, or more lipid components). Exemplary cationic lipids include lipofectamine or other amino lipids, including the lipid containing compositions referred to above, for example, in PCT/US2007/080331 and WO/2006/138380. Other exemplary cationic lipids include those described in US 20070293449, US 20070087045, US 20070042031, US 20050002999, US 20050002998, US 20060008910, US 20050014962, US 20060240093, US 20050064595, and US 20060083780.
The term "fusogenic" refers to the ability of a lipid or other drug delivery system to fuse with membranes of a cell. The membranes can be either the plasma membrane or membranes surrounding organelles, e.g., endosome, nucleus, etc. Examples of suitable fusogenic lipids include, but are not limited to dioleoylphosphatidylethanolamine (DOPE), DODAC, DODMA, DODAP, or DLinDMA. In some embodiments, the association complex include a small molecule such as an imidzole moiety conjugated to a lipid, for example, for endosomal release.
PEG or PEG-Lipids
In addition to cationic and fusogenic lipids, an association complex can include a bilayer stabilizing component (BSC) such as an ATTA-lipid or a PEG-lipid. Examplary lipids are as follows: PEG coupled to dialkyloxypropyls (PEG-DAA) as described in, e.g., WO 05/026372, PEG coupled to diacylglycerol (PEG-DAG) as described in, e.g., U.S. Patent Publication Nos. 20030077829 and 2005008689), PEG coupled to phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) (PEG-PE), or PEG conjugated to ceramides, or a mixture thereof (see, U.S. Pat. No. 5,885,613). In a preferred embodiment, the association includes a PEG-lipid described here, for example a PEG-lipid of formula (XV), (XV') or (XVI). In one preferred embodiment, the BSC is a conjugated lipid that inhibits aggregation of the SPLPs. Suitable conjugated lipids include, but are not limited to PEG-lipid conjugates, ATTA-lipid conjugates, cationic-polymer-lipid conjugates (CPLs) or mixtures thereof. In one preferred embodiment, the SPLPs comprise either a PEG-lipid conjugate or an ATTA-lipid conjugate together with a CPL.
PEG is a polyethylene glycol, a linear, water-soluble polymer of ethylene PEG repeating units with two terminal hydroxyl groups. PEGs are classified by their molecular weights; for example, PEG 2000 has an average molecular weight of about 2,000 daltons, and PEG 5000 has an average molecular weight of about 5,000 daltons. PEGs are commercially available from Sigma Chemical Co. and other companies and include, for example, the following: monomethoxypolyethylene glycol (MePEG-OH), monomethoxypolyethylene glycol-succinate (MePEG-S), monomethoxypolyethylene glycol-succinimidyl succinate (MePEG-S-NHS), monomethoxypolyethylene glycol-amine (MePEG-NH2), monomethoxypolyethylene glycol-tresylate (MePEG-TRES), and monomethoxypolyethylene glycol-imidazolyl-carbonyl (MePEG-IM). In addition, monomethoxypolyethyleneglycol-acetic acid (MePEG-CH2COOH), is particularly useful for preparing the PEG-lipid conjugates including, e.g., PEG-DAA conjugates.
In a preferred embodiment, the PEG has an average molecular weight of from about 550 daltons to about 10,000 daltons, more preferably of about 750 daltons to about 5,000 daltons, more preferably of about 1,000 daltons to about 5,000 daltons, more preferably of about 1,500 daltons to about 3,000 daltons and, even more preferably, of about 2,000 daltons, or about 750 daltons. The PEG can be optionally substituted by an alkyl, alkoxy, acyl or aryl group. PEG can be conjugated directly to the lipid or may be linked to the lipid via a linker moiety. Any linker moiety suitable for coupling the PEG to a lipid can be used including, e.g., non-ester containing linker moieties and ester-containing linker moieties. In a preferred embodiment, the linker moiety is a non-ester containing linker moiety. As used herein, the term "non-ester containing linker moiety" refers to a linker moiety that does not contain a carboxylic ester bond (--OC(O)--). Suitable non-ester containing linker moieties include, but are not limited to, amido (--C(O)NH--), amino (--NR--), carbonyl (--C(O)--), carbamate (--NHC(O)O--), urea (--NHC(O)NH--), disulphide (--S--S--), ether (--O--), succinyl (--(O)CCH2CH2C(O)--), succinamidyl (--NHC(O)CH2CH2C(O--)NH--), ether, disulphide, etc. as well as combinations thereof (such as a linker containing both a carbamate linker moiety and an amido linker moiety). In a preferred embodiment, a carbamate linker is used to couple the PEG to the lipid.
In other embodiments, an ester containing linker moiety is used to couple the PEG to the lipid. Suitable ester containing linker moieties include, e.g., carbonate (--OC(O)O--), succinoyl, phosphate esters (----(O)POH--O--), sulfonate esters, and combinations thereof.
In some embodiments, the association complex includes a targeting agent. For example, a targeting agent can be included in the surface of the association complex (e.g., liposome) to help direct the association complex to a targeted area of the body. Examples of targeting agents include galactose, mannose, and folate. Other examples of targeting agents include small molecule receptors, peptides and antibodies. In some embodiments, the targeting agent is conjugated to the therapeutic moiety such as oligonucleotide agent. In some embodiments, the targeting moiety is attached directly to a lipid component of an association complex. In some embodiments, the targeting moiety is attached directly to the lipid component via PEG, preferably with PEG of average molecular weight 2000 amu. In some embodiments, the targeting agent is unconjugated, for example on the surface of the association complex.
In some embodiments, the association complex includes one or more components that improve the structure of the complex (e.g., liposome). In some embodiments, a therapeutic agent such as dsRNA can be attached (e.g., conjugated) to a lipophilic compound such as cholesterol, thereby providing a lipophilic anchor to the dsRNA. In some embodiments conjugation of a dsRNA to a lipophilic moiety such as cholesterol can improve the encapsulation efficiency of the association complex.
In some embodiments, the association complex provides improved in vivo delivery of an oligonucleotide such as dsRNA. In vivo delivery of an oligonucleotide can be measured using a gene silencing assay, for example an assay measuring the silencing of Factor VII.
Double-Stranded Ribonucleic Acid (dsRNA)
A preferred agent is a dsRNA. In one embodiment, the invention provides a dsRNA molecule packaged in an association complex, such as a liposome, for inhibiting the expression of a gene in a cell or mammal. A dsRNA can comprise an antisense strand comprising a region of complementarity that is complementary to at least a part of an mRNA formed in the expression of the gene (e.g., the FVII gene), where the region of complementarity is less than 30 nucleotides in length, generally 19-24 nucleotides in length, and where the dsRNA, upon contact with a cell expressing the gene, inhibits the expression of the gene by at least 40%. The dsRNA includes two RNA strands that are sufficiently complementary to hybridize to form a duplex structure. One strand of the dsRNA (the antisense strand) includes a region of complementarity that is substantially complementary, and generally fully complementary, to a target sequence derived from the sequence of an mRNA formed during the expression of a gene, the other strand (the sense strand) includes a region that is complementary to the antisense strand, such that the two strands hybridize and form a duplex structure when combined under suitable conditions. Generally, the duplex structure is between 15 and 30, more generally between 18 and 25, yet more generally between 19 and 24, and most generally between 19 and 21 base pairs in length. Similarly, the region of complementarity to the target sequence is between 15 and 30, more generally between 18 and 25, yet more generally between 19 and 24, and most generally between 19 and 21 nucleotides in length. The dsRNA of the invention may further include one or more single-stranded nucleotide overhang(s). The dsRNA can be synthesized by standard methods known in the art as further discussed below, such as by use of an automated DNA synthesizer, which is commercially available from, for example, Biosearch, Applied Biosystems, Inc. In a preferred embodiment the cleavage is within 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 or 1 nucleotides of the cleavage site for a dsRNA.
A dsRNA described herein, e.g., a dsRNA suitable for use with a delivery component, can include a duplex structure of between 18 and 25 basepairs (e.g., 21 base pairs). In some embodiments, the dsRNA includes at least one strand that is at least 21nt long. In other embodiments, the dsRNA includes at least one strand that is at least 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, or more contiguous nucleotides.
A dsRNA described herein, e.g., a dsRNA suitable for use with a delivery component, can contain one or more mismatches to the target sequence. In a preferred embodiment, the dsRNA contains no more than 3 mismatches. If the antisense strand of the dsRNA contains mismatches to a target sequence, it is preferable that the area of mismatch not be located in the center of the region of complementarity. If the antisense strand of the dsRNA contains mismatches to the target sequence, it is preferable that the mismatch be restricted to 5 nucleotides from either end, for example 5, 4, 3, 2, or 1 nucleotide from either the 5' or 3' end of the region of complementarity. For example, for a 23 nucleotide dsRNA strand which is complementary to a region of the Factor VII gene, the dsRNA generally does not contain any mismatch within the central 13 nucleotides. The methods described can be used to determine whether a dsRNA containing a mismatch to a target sequence is effective in inhibiting the expression of the Factor VII gene. Consideration of the efficacy of dsRNAs with mismatches in inhibiting expression of the Factor VII gene is important, especially if the particular region of complementarity in the Factor VII gene is known to have polymorphic sequence variation within the population.
In one embodiment, at least one end of the dsRNA has a single-stranded nucleotide overhang of 1 to 4, generally 1 or 2 nucleotides. Generally, the single-stranded overhang is located at the 3'-terminal end of the antisense strand or, alternatively, at the 3'-terminal end of the sense strand. The dsRNA may also have a blunt end, generally located at the 5'-end of the antisense strand. Such dsRNAs have improved stability and inhibitory activity, thus allowing administration at low dosages, i.e., less than 5 mg/kg body weight of the recipient per day. Generally, the antisense strand of the dsRNA has a nucleotide overhang at the 3'-end, and the 5'-end is blunt. In another embodiment, one or more of the nucleotides in the overhang is replaced with a nucleoside thiophosphate.
In yet another embodiment, a dsRNA, e.g., a dsRNA packaged in an association complex, such as a liposome, is chemically modified to enhance stability. Such nucleic acids may be synthesized and/or modified by methods well established in the art, such as those described in "Current protocols in nucleic acid chemistry", Beaucage, S. L. et al. (Edrs.), John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, N.Y., USA, which is hereby incorporated herein by reference. Chemical modifications may include, but are not limited to 2' modifications, modifications at other sites of the sugar or base of an oligonucleotide, introduction of non-natural bases into the oligonucleotide chain, covalent attachment to a ligand or chemical moiety, and replacement of internucleotide phosphate linkages with alternate linkages such as thiophosphates. More than one such modification may be employed.
Chemical linking of the two separate dsRNA strands may be achieved by any of a variety of well-known techniques, for example by introducing covalent, ionic or hydrogen bonds; hydrophobic interactions, van der Waals or stacking interactions; by means of metal-ion coordination, or through use of purine analogues. Such chemically linked dsRNAs are suitable for packaging in the association complexes described herein. Generally, the chemical groups that can be used to modify the dsRNA include, without limitation, methylene blue; bifunctional groups, generally bis-(2-chloroethyl)amine; N-acetyl-N'-(p-glyoxylbenzoyl)cystamine; 4-thiouracil; and psoralen. In one embodiment, the linker is a hexa-ethylene glycol linker. In this case, the dsRNA are produced by solid phase synthesis and the hexa-ethylene glycol linker is incorporated according to standard methods (e.g., Williams, D. J., and K. B. Hall, Biochem. (1996) 35:14665-14670). In a particular embodiment, the 5'-end of the antisense strand and the 3'-end of the sense strand are chemically linked via a hexaethylene glycol linker In another embodiment, at least one nucleotide of the dsRNA comprises a phosphorothioate or phosphorodithioate groups. The chemical bond at the ends of the dsRNA is generally formed by triple-helix bonds.
In yet another embodiment, the nucleotides at one or both of the two single strands may be modified to prevent or inhibit the degradation activities of cellular enzymes, such as, for example, without limitation, certain nucleases. Techniques for inhibiting the degradation activity of cellular enzymes against nucleic acids are known in the art including, but not limited to, 2'-amino modifications, 2'-amino sugar modifications, 2'-F sugar modifications, 2'-F modifications, 2'-alkyl sugar modifications, 2'-O-alkoxyalkyl modifications like 2'-O-methoxyethyl, uncharged and charged backbone modifications, morpholino modifications, 2'-O-methyl modifications, and phosphoramidate (see, e.g., Wagner, Nat. Med. (1995) 1:1116-8). Thus, at least one 2'-hydroxyl group of the nucleotides on a dsRNA is replaced by a chemical group, generally by a 2'-F or a 2'-O-methyl group. Also, at least one nucleotide may be modified to form a locked nucleotide. Such locked nucleotide contains a methylene bridge that connects the 2'-oxygen of ribose with the 4'-carbon of ribose. Oligonucleotides containing the locked nucleotide are described in Koshkin, A. A., et al., Tetrahedron (1998), 54: 3607-3630) and Obika, S. et al., Tetrahedron Lett. (1998), 39: 5401-5404). Introduction of a locked nucleotide into an oligonucleotide improves the affinity for complementary sequences and increases the melting temperature by several degrees (Braasch, D. A. and D. R. Corey, Chem. Biol. (2001), 8:1-7).
Conjugating a ligand to a dsRNA can enhance its cellular absorption as well as targeting to a particular tissue or uptake by specific types of cells such as liver cells. In certain instances, a hydrophobic ligand is conjugated to the dsRNA to facilitate direct permeation of the cellular membrane and or uptake across the liver cells. Alternatively, the ligand conjugated to the dsRNA is a substrate for receptor-mediated endocytosis. These approaches have been used to facilitate cell permeation of antisense oligonucleotides as well as dsRNA agents. For example, cholesterol has been conjugated to various antisense oligonucleotides resulting in compounds that are substantially more active compared to their non-conjugated analogs. See M. Manoharan Antisense & Nucleic Acid Drug Development 2002, 12, 103. Other lipophilic compounds that have been conjugated to oligonucleotides include 1-pyrene butyric acid, 1,3-bis-O-(hexadecyl)glycerol, and menthol. One example of a ligand for receptor-mediated endocytosis is folic acid. Folic acid enters the cell by folate-receptor-mediated endocytosis. dsRNA compounds bearing folic acid would be efficiently transported into the cell via the folate-receptor-mediated endocytosis. Li and coworkers report that attachment of folic acid to the 3'-terminus of an oligonucleotide resulted in an 8-fold increase in cellular uptake of the oligonucleotide. Li, S.; Deshmukh, H. M.; Huang, L. Pharm. Res. 1998, 15, 1540. Other ligands that have been conjugated to oligonucleotides include polyethylene glycols, carbohydrate clusters, cross-linking agents, porphyrin conjugates, delivery peptides and lipids such as cholesterol. Other chemical modifications for siRNAs have been described in Manoharan, M. RNA interference and chemically modified small interfering RNAs. Current Opinion in Chemical Biology (2004), 8(6), 570-579.
In certain instances, conjugation of a cationic ligand to oligonucleotides results in improved resistance to nucleases. Representative examples of cationic ligands are propylammonium and dimethylpropylammonium. Interestingly, antisense oligonucleotides were reported to retain their high binding affinity to mRNA when the cationic ligand was dispersed throughout the oligonucleotide. See M. Manoharan Antisense & Nucleic Acid Drug Development 2002, 12, 103 and references therein.
The ligand-conjugated dsRNA of the invention may be synthesized by the use of a dsRNA that bears a pendant reactive functionality, such as that derived from the attachment of a linking molecule onto the dsRNA. This reactive oligonucleotide may be reacted directly with commercially-available ligands, ligands that are synthesized bearing any of a variety of protecting groups, or ligands that have a linking moiety attached thereto. The methods of the invention facilitate the synthesis of ligand-conjugated dsRNA by the use of, in some preferred embodiments, nucleoside monomers that have been appropriately conjugated with ligands and that may further be attached to a solid-support material. Such ligand-nucleoside conjugates, optionally attached to a solid-support material, are prepared according to some preferred embodiments of the methods of the invention via reaction of a selected serum-binding ligand with a linking moiety located on the 5' position of a nucleoside or oligonucleotide. In certain instances, a dsRNA bearing an aralkyl ligand attached to the 3'-terminus of the dsRNA is prepared by first covalently attaching a monomer building block to a controlled-pore-glass support via a long-chain aminoalkyl group. Then, nucleotides are bonded via standard solid-phase synthesis techniques to the monomer building-block bound to the solid support. The monomer building block may be a nucleoside or other organic compound that is compatible with solid-phase synthesis.
The dsRNA used in the conjugates of the invention may be conveniently and routinely made through the well-known technique of solid-phase synthesis. Equipment for such synthesis is sold by several vendors including, for example, Applied Biosystems (Foster City, Calif.). Any other means for such synthesis known in the art may additionally or alternatively be employed. It is also known to use similar techniques to prepare other oligonucleotides, such as the phosphorothioates and alkylated derivatives.
Teachings regarding the synthesis of particular modified oligonucleotides may be found in the following U.S. patents: U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,138,045 and 5,218,105, drawn to polyamine conjugated oligonucleotides; U.S. Pat. No. 5,212,295, drawn to monomers for the preparation of oligonucleotides having chiral phosphorus linkages; U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,378,825 and 5,541,307, drawn to oligonucleotides having modified backbones; U.S. Pat. No. 5,386,023, drawn to backbone-modified oligonucleotides and the preparation thereof through reductive coupling; U.S. Pat. No. 5,457,191, drawn to modified nucleobases based on the 3-deazapurine ring system and methods of synthesis thereof; U.S. Pat. No. 5,459,255, drawn to modified nucleobases based on N-2 substituted purines; U.S. Pat. No. 5,521,302, drawn to processes for preparing oligonucleotides having chiral phosphorus linkages; U.S. Pat. No. 5,539,082, drawn to peptide nucleic acids; U.S. Pat. No. 5,554,746, drawn to oligonucleotides having β-lactam backbones; U.S. Pat. No. 5,571,902, drawn to methods and materials for the synthesis of oligonucleotides; U.S. Pat. No. 5,578,718, drawn to nucleosides having alkylthio groups, wherein such groups may be used as linkers to other moieties attached at any of a variety of positions of the nucleoside; U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,587,361 and 5,599,797, drawn to oligonucleotides having phosphorothioate linkages of high chiral purity; U.S. Pat. No. 5,506,351, drawn to processes for the preparation of 2'-O-alkyl guanosine and related compounds, including 2,6-diaminopurine compounds; U.S. Pat. No. 5,587,469, drawn to oligonucleotides having N-2 substituted purines; U.S. Pat. No. 5,587,470, drawn to oligonucleotides having 3-deazapurines; U.S. Pat. No. 5,223,168, and U.S. Pat. No. 5,608,046, both drawn to conjugated 4'-desmethyl nucleoside analogs; U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,602,240, and 5,610,289, drawn to backbone-modified oligonucleotide analogs; U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,262,241, and 5,459,255, drawn to, inter alia, methods of synthesizing 2'-fluoro-oligonucleotides.
In the ligand-conjugated dsRNA and ligand-molecule bearing sequence-specific linked nucleosides of the invention, the oligonucleotides and oligonucleosides may be assembled on a suitable DNA synthesizer utilizing standard nucleotide or nucleoside precursors, or nucleotide or nucleoside conjugate precursors that already bear the linking moiety, ligand-nucleotide or nucleoside-conjugate precursors that already bear the ligand molecule, or non-nucleoside ligand-bearing building blocks.
When using nucleotide-conjugate precursors that already bear a linking moiety, the synthesis of the sequence-specific linked nucleosides is typically completed, and the ligand molecule is then reacted with the linking moiety to form the ligand-conjugated oligonucleotide. Oligonucleotide conjugates bearing a variety of molecules such as steroids, vitamins, lipids and reporter molecules, has previously been described (see Manoharan et al., PCT Application WO 93/07883). In a preferred embodiment, the oligonucleotides or linked nucleosides of the invention are synthesized by an automated synthesizer using phosphoramidites derived from ligand-nucleoside conjugates in addition to the standard phosphoramidites and non-standard phosphoramidites that are commercially available and routinely used in oligonucleotide synthesis.
The dsRNAs packaged in the association complexes described herein can include one or more modified nucleosides, e.g., a 2'-O-methyl, 2'-O-ethyl, 2'-O-propyl, 2'-O-allyl, 2'-O-aminoalkyl or 2'-deoxy-2'-fluoro group in the nucleosides. Such modifications confer enhanced hybridization properties to the oligonucleotide. Further, oligonucleotides containing phosphorothioate backbones have enhanced nuclease stability. Thus, functionalized, linked nucleosides can be augmented to include either or both a phosphorothioate backbone or a 2'-O-methyl, 2'-O-ethyl, 2'-O-propyl, 2'-O-aminoalkyl, 2'-O-allyl or 2'-deoxy-2'-fluoro group. A summary listing of some of the oligonucleotide modifications known in the art is found at, for example, PCT Publication WO 200370918.
In some embodiments, functionalized nucleoside sequences possessing an amino group at the 5'-terminus are prepared using a DNA synthesizer, and then reacted with an active ester derivative of a selected ligand. Active ester derivatives are well known to those skilled in the art. Representative active esters include N-hydrosuccinimide esters, tetrafluorophenolic esters, pentafluorophenolic esters and pentachlorophenolic esters. The reaction of the amino group and the active ester produces an oligonucleotide in which the selected ligand is attached to the 5'-position through a linking group. The amino group at the 5'-terminus can be prepared utilizing a 5'-Amino-Modifier C6 reagent. In one embodiment, ligand molecules may be conjugated to oligonucleotides at the 5'-position by the use of a ligand-nucleoside phosphoramidite wherein the ligand is linked to the 5'-hydroxy group directly or indirectly via a linker. Such ligand-nucleoside phosphoramidites are typically used at the end of an automated synthesis procedure to provide a ligand-conjugated oligonucleotide bearing the ligand at the 5'-terminus.
Examples of modified internucleoside linkages or backbones include, for example, phosphorothioates, chiral phosphorothioates, phosphorodithioates, phosphotriesters, aminoalkylphosphotriesters, methyl and other alkyl phosphonates including 3'-alkylene phosphonates and chiral phosphonates, phosphinates, phosphoramidates including 3'-amino phosphoramidate and aminoalkylphosphoramidates, thionophosphoramidates, thionoalkylphosphonates, thionoalkylphosphotriesters, and boranophosphates having normal 3'-5' linkages, 2'-5' linked analogs of these, and those having inverted polarity wherein the adjacent pairs of nucleoside units are linked 3'-5' to 5'-3' or 2'-5' to 5'-2'. Various salts, mixed salts and free-acid forms are also included.
Representative United States Patents relating to the preparation of the above phosphorus-atom-containing linkages include, but are not limited to, U.S. Pat. Nos. 3,687,808; 4,469,863; 4,476,301; 5,023,243; 5,177,196; 5,188,897; 5,264,423; 5,276,019; 5,278,302; 5,286,717; 5,321,131; 5,399,676; 5,405,939; 5,453,496; 5,455,233; 5,466,677; 5,476,925; 5,519,126; 5,536,821; 5,541,306; 5,550,111; 5,563,253; 5,571,799; 5,587,361; 5,625,050; and 5,697,248, each of which is herein incorporated by reference.
Examples of modified internucleoside linkages or backbones that do not include a phosphorus atom therein (i.e., oligonucleotides) have backbones that are formed by short chain alkyl or cycloalkyl intersugar linkages, mixed heteroatom and alkyl or cycloalkyl intersugar linkages, or one or more short chain heteroatomic or heterocyclic intersugar linkages. These include those having morpholino linkages (formed in part from the sugar portion of a nucleoside); siloxane backbones; sulfide, sulfoxide and sulfone backbones; formacetyl and thioformacetyl backbones; methylene formacetyl and thioformacetyl backbones; alkene containing backbones; sulfamate backbones; methyleneimino and methylenehydrazino backbones; sulfonate and sulfonamide backbones; amide backbones; and others having mixed N, O, S and CH2 component parts.
Representative United States patents relating to the preparation of the above oligonucleosides include, but are not limited to, U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,034,506; 5,166,315; 5,185,444; 5,214,134; 5,216,141; 5,235,033; 5,264,562; 5,264,564; 5,405,938; 5,434,257; 5,466,677; 5,470,967; 5,489,677; 5,541,307; 5,561,225; 5,596,086; 5,602,240; 5,610,289; 5,602,240; 5,608,046; 5,610,289; 5,618,704; 5,623,070; 5,663,312; 5,633,360; 5,677,437; and 5,677,439, each of which is herein incorporated by reference.
In certain instances, an oligonucleotide included in an association complex, such as a liposome, may be modified by a non-ligand group. A number of non-ligand molecules have been conjugated to oligonucleotides in order to enhance the activity, cellular distribution or cellular uptake of the oligonucleotide, and procedures for performing such conjugations are available in the scientific literature. Such non-ligand moieties have included lipid moieties, such as cholesterol (Letsinger et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 1989, 86:6553), cholic acid (Manoharan et al., Bioorg. Med. Chem. Lett., 1994, 4:1053), a thioether, e.g., hexyl-S-tritylthiol (Manoharan et al., Ann N.Y. Acad. Sci., 1992, 660:306; Manoharan et al., Bioorg. Med. Chem. Let., 1993, 3:2765), a thiocholesterol (Oberhauser et al., Nucl. Acids Res., 1992, 20:533), an aliphatic chain, e.g., dodecandiol or undecyl residues (Saison-Behmoaras et al., EMBO J., 1991, 10:111; Kabanov et al., FEBS Lett., 1990, 259:327; Svinarchuk et al., Biochimie, 1993, 75:49), a phospholipid, e.g., di-hexadecyl-rac-glycerol or triethylammonium 1,2-di-O-hexadecyl-rac-glycero-3-H-phosphonate (Manoharan et al., Tetrahedron Lett., 1995, 36:3651; Shea et al., Nucl. Acids Res., 1990, 18:3777), a polyamine or a polyethylene glycol chain (Manoharan et al., Nucleosides & Nucleotides, 1995, 14:969), or adamantane acetic acid (Manoharan et al., Tetrahedron Lett., 1995, 36:3651), a palmityl moiety (Mishra et al., Biochim Biophys. Acta, 1995, 1264:229), or an octadecylamine or hexylamino-carbonyl-oxycholesterol moiety (Crooke et al., J. Pharmacol. Exp. Ther., 1996, 277:923). Representative United States patents that teach the preparation of such oligonucleotide conjugates have been listed above. Typical conjugation protocols involve the synthesis of oligonucleotides bearing an aminolinker at one or more positions of the sequence. The amino group is then reacted with the molecule being conjugated using appropriate coupling or activating reagents. The conjugation reaction may be performed either with the oligonucleotide still bound to the solid support or following cleavage of the oligonucleotide in solution phase. Purification of the oligonucleotide conjugate by HPLC typically affords the pure conjugate.
The modifications described above are appropriate for use with an oligonucleotide agent as described herein.
Single Stranded Oligonucleotide Agents
MicroRNA Oligonucleotide Agents
Oligonucleotide agents include microRNAs (miRNAs). MicroRNAs are small noncoding RNA molecules that are capable of causing post-transcriptional silencing of specific genes in cells such as by the inhibition of translation or through degradation of the targeted mRNA. An miRNA can be completely complementary or can have a region of noncomplementarity with a target nucleic acid, consequently resulting in a "bulge" at the region of non-complementarity. The region of noncomplementarity (the bulge) can be flanked by regions of sufficient complementarity, preferably complete complementarity to allow duplex formation. Preferably, the regions of complementarity are at least 8 to 10 nucleotides long (e.g., 8, 9, or 10 nucleotides long). A miRNA can inhibit gene expression by repressing translation, such as when the microRNA is not completely complementary to the target nucleic acid, or by causing target RNA degradation, which is believed to occur only when the miRNA binds its target with perfect complementarity. The invention also can include double-stranded precursors of miRNAs that may or may not form a bulge when bound to their targets.
In a preferred embodiment an oligonucleotide agent featured in the invention can target an endogenous miRNA or pre-miRNA. The oligonucleotide agent featured in the invention can include naturally occurring nucleobases, sugars, and covalent internucleoside (backbone) linkages as well as oligonucleotides having non-naturally-occurring portions that function similarly. Such modified or substituted oligonucleotides are often preferred over native forms because of desirable properties such as, for example, enhanced cellular uptake, enhanced affinity for the endogenous miRNA target, and/or increased stability in the presence of nucleases. An oligonucleotide agent designed to bind to a specific endogenous miRNA has substantial complementarity, e.g., at least 70, 80, 90, or 100% complementary, with at least 10, 20, or 25 or more bases of the target miRNA.
A miRNA or pre-miRNA can be 18-100 nucleotides in length, and more preferably from 18-80 nucleotides in length. Mature miRNAs can have a length of 19-30 nucleotides, preferably 21-25 nucleotides, particularly 21, 22, 23, 24, or 25 nucleotides. MicroRNA precursors can have a length of 70-100 nucleotides and have a hairpin conformation. MicroRNAs can be generated in vivo from pre-miRNAs by enzymes called Dicer and Drosha that specifically process long pre-miRNA into functional miRNA. The microRNAs or precursor mi-RNAs featured in the invention can be synthesized in vivo by a cell-based system or can be chemically synthesized. MicroRNAs can be synthesized to include a modification that imparts a desired characteristic. For example, the modification can improve stability, hybridization thermodynamics with a target nucleic acid, targeting to a particular tissue or cell-type, or cell permeability, e.g., by an endocytosis-dependent or -independent mechanism. Modifications can also increase sequence specificity, and consequently decrease off-site targeting. Methods of synthesis and chemical modifications are described in greater detail below.
Given a sense strand sequence (e.g., the sequence of a sense strand of a cDNA molecule), an miRNA can be designed according to the rules of Watson and Crick base pairing. The miRNA can be complementary to a portion of an RNA, e.g., a miRNA, a pre-miRNA, a pre-mRNA or an mRNA. For example, the miRNA can be complementary to the coding region or noncoding region of an mRNA or pre-mRNA, e.g., the region surrounding the translation start site of a pre-mRNA or mRNA, such as the 5' UTR. An miRNA oligonucleotide can be, for example, from about 12 to 30 nucleotides in length, preferably about 15 to 28 nucleotides in length (e.g., 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, or 25 nucleotides in length).
In particular, an miRNA or a pre-miRNA featured in the invention can have a chemical modification on a nucleotide in an internal (i.e., non-terminal) region having noncomplementarity with the target nucleic acid. For example, a modified nucleotide can be incorporated into the region of a miRNA that forms a bulge. The modification can include a ligand attached to the miRNA, e.g., by a linker (e.g., see diagrams OT-I through OT-IV below). The modification can, for example, improve pharmacokinetics or stability of a therapeutic miRNA, or improve hybridization properties (e.g., hybridization thermodynamics) of the miRNA to a target nucleic acid. In some embodiments, it is preferred that the orientation of a modification or ligand incorporated into or tethered to the bulge region of a miRNA is oriented to occupy the space in the bulge region. For example, the modification can include a modified base or sugar on the nucleic acid strand or a ligand that functions as an intercalator. These are preferably located in the bulge. The intercalator can be an aromatic, e.g., a polycyclic aromatic or heterocyclic aromatic compound. A polycyclic intercalator can have stacking capabilities, and can include systems with 2, 3, or 4 fused rings. The universal bases described below can be incorporated into the miRNAs. In some embodiments, it is preferred that the orientation of a modification or ligand incorporated into or tethered to the bulge region of a miRNA is oriented to occupy the space in the bulge region. This orientation facilitates the improved hybridization properties or an otherwise desired characteristic of the miRNA.
In one embodiment, an miRNA or a pre-miRNA can include an aminoglycoside ligand, which can cause the miRNA to have improved hybridization properties or improved sequence specificity. Exemplary aminoglycosides include glycosylated polylysine; galactosylated polylysine; neomycin B; tobramycin; kanamycin A; and acridine conjugates of aminoglycosides, such as Neo-N-acridine, Neo-S-acridine, Neo-C-acridine, Tobra-N-acridine, and KanaA-N-acridine. Use of an acridine analog can increase sequence specificity. For example, neomycin B has a high affinity for RNA as compared to DNA, but low sequence-specificity. An acridine analog, neo-S-acridine has an increased affinity for the HIV Rev-response element (RRE). In some embodiments the guanidine analog (the guanidinoglycoside) of an aminoglycoside ligand is tethered to an oligonucleotide agent. In a guanidinoglycoside, the amine group on the amino acid is exchanged for a guanidine group. Attachment of a guanidine analog can enhance cell permeability of an oligonucleotide agent.
In one embodiment, the ligand can include a cleaving group that contributes to target gene inhibition by cleavage of the target nucleic acid. Preferably, the cleaving group is tethered to the miRNA in a manner such that it is positioned in the bulge region, where it can access and cleave the target RNA. The cleaving group can be, for example, a bleomycin (e.g., bleomycin-A5, bleomycin-A2, or bleomycin-B2), pyrene, phenanthroline (e.g., O-phenanthroline), a polyamine, a tripeptide (e.g., lys-tyr-lys tripeptide), or metal ion chelating group. The metal ion chelating group can include, e.g., an Lu(III) or EU(III) macrocyclic complex, a Zn(II) 2,9-dimethylphenanthroline derivative, a Cu(II) terpyridine, or acridine, which can promote the selective cleavage of target RNA at the site of the bulge by free metal ions, such as Lu(III). In some embodiments, a peptide ligand can be tethered to a miRNA or a pre-miRNA to promote cleavage of the target RNA, e.g., at the bulge region. For example, 1,8-dimethyl-1,3,6,8,10,13-hexaazacyclotetradecane (cyclam) can be conjugated to a peptide (e.g., by an amino acid derivative) to promote target RNA cleavage. The methods and compositions featured in the invention include miRNAs that inhibit target gene expression by a cleavage or non-cleavage dependent mechanism.
An miRNA or a pre-miRNA can be designed and synthesized to include a region of noncomplementarity (e.g., a region that is 3, 4, 5, or 6 nucleotides long) flanked by regions of sufficient complementarity to form a duplex (e.g., regions that are 7, 8, 9, 10, or 11 nucleotides long).
For increased nuclease resistance and/or binding affinity to the target, the miRNA sequences can include 2'-O-methyl, 2'-fluorine, 2'-O-methoxyethyl, 2'-O-aminopropyl, 2'-amino, and/or phosphorothioate linkages. Inclusion of locked nucleic acids (LNA), 2-thiopyrimidines (e.g., 2-thio-U), 2-amino-A, G-clamp modifications, and ethylene nucleic acids (ENA), e.g., 2'-4'-ethylene-bridged nucleic acids, can also increase binding affinity to the target. The inclusion of furanose sugars in the oligonucleotide backbone can also decrease endonucleolytic cleavage. An miRNA or a pre-miRNA can be further modified by including a 3' cationic group, or by inverting the nucleoside at the 3'-terminus with a 3'-3' linkage. In another alternative, the 3'-terminus can be blocked with an aminoalkyl group, e.g., a 3' C5-aminoalkyl dT. Other 3' conjugates can inhibit 3'-5' exonucleolytic cleavage. While not being bound by theory, a 3' conjugate, such as naproxen or ibuprofen, may inhibit exonucleolytic cleavage by sterically blocking the exonuclease from binding to the 3' end of oligonucleotide. Even small alkyl chains, aryl groups, or heterocyclic conjugates or modified sugars (D-ribose, deoxyribose, glucose etc.) can block 3'-5'-exonucleases.
The 5'-terminus can be blocked with an aminoalkyl group, e.g., a 5'-O-alkylamino substituent. Other 5' conjugates can inhibit 5'-3' exonucleolytic cleavage. While not being bound by theory, a 5' conjugate, such as naproxen or ibuprofen, may inhibit exonucleolytic cleavage by sterically blocking the exonuclease from binding to the 5' end of oligonucleotide. Even small alkyl chains, aryl groups, or heterocyclic conjugates or modified sugars (D-ribose, deoxyribose, glucose etc.) can block 3'-5'-exonucleases.
In one embodiment, an miRNA or a pre-miRNA includes a modification that improves targeting, e.g. a targeting modification described herein. Examples of modifications that target miRNA molecules to particular cell types include carbohydrate sugars such as galactose, N-acetylgalactosamine, mannose; vitamins such as folates; other ligands such as RGDs and RGD mimics; and small molecules including naproxen, ibuprofen or other known protein-binding molecules.
An miRNA or a pre-miRNA can be constructed using chemical synthesis and/or enzymatic ligation reactions using procedures known in the art. For example, an miRNA or a pre-miRNA can be chemically synthesized using naturally occurring nucleotides or variously modified nucleotides designed to increase the biological stability of the molecules or to increase the physical stability of the duplex formed between the miRNA or a pre-miRNA and target nucleic acids, e.g., phosphorothioate derivatives and acridine substituted nucleotides can be used. Other appropriate nucleic acid modifications are described herein. Alternatively, the miRNA or pre-miRNA nucleic acid can be produced biologically using an expression vector into which a nucleic acid has been subcloned in an antisense orientation (i.e., RNA transcribed from the inserted nucleic acid will be of an antisense orientation to a target nucleic acid of interest).
Antisense-Type Oligonucleotide Agents
The single-stranded oligonucleotide agents featured in the invention include antisense nucleic acids. An "antisense" nucleic acid includes a nucleotide sequence that is complementary to a "sense" nucleic acid encoding a gene expression product, e.g., complementary to the coding strand of a double-stranded cDNA molecule or complementary to an RNA sequence, e.g., a pre-mRNA, mRNA, miRNA, or pre-miRNA. Accordingly, an antisense nucleic acid can form hydrogen bonds with a sense nucleic acid target.
Given a coding strand sequence (e.g., the sequence of a sense strand of a cDNA molecule), antisense nucleic acids can be designed according to the rules of Watson and Crick base pairing. The antisense nucleic acid molecule can be complementary to a portion of the coding or noncoding region of an RNA, e.g., a pre-mRNA or mRNA. For example, the antisense oligonucleotide can be complementary to the region surrounding the translation start site of a pre-mRNA or mRNA, e.g., the 5' UTR. An antisense oligonucleotide can be, for example, about 10 to 25 nucleotides in length (e.g., 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, or 24 nucleotides in length). An antisense oligonucleotide can also be complementary to a miRNA or pre-miRNA.
An antisense nucleic acid can be constructed using chemical synthesis and/or enzymatic ligation reactions using procedures known in the art. For example, an antisense nucleic acid (e.g., an antisense oligonucleotide) can be chemically synthesized using naturally occurring nucleotides or variously modified nucleotides designed to increase the biological stability of the molecules or to increase the physical stability of the duplex formed between the antisense and target nucleic acids, e.g., phosphorothioate derivatives and acridine substituted nucleotides can be used. Other appropriate nucleic acid modifications are described herein. Alternatively, the antisense nucleic acid can be produced biologically using an expression vector into which a nucleic acid has been subcloned in an antisense orientation (i.e., RNA transcribed from the inserted nucleic acid will be of an antisense orientation to a target nucleic acid of interest).
An antisense agent can include ribonucleotides only, deoxyribonucleotides only (e.g., oligodeoxynucleotides), or both deoxyribonucleotides and ribonucleotides. For example, an antisense agent consisting only of ribonucleotides can hybridize to a complementary RNA, and prevent access of the translation machinery to the target RNA transcript, thereby preventing protein synthesis. An antisense molecule including only deoxyribonucleotides, or deoxyribonucleotides and ribonucleotides, e.g., DNA sequence flanked by RNA sequence at the 5' and 3' ends of the antisense agent, can hybridize to a complementary RNA, and the RNA target can be subsequently cleaved by an enzyme, e.g., RNAse H. Degradation of the target RNA prevents translation. The flanking RNA sequences can include 2'-O-methylated nucleotides, and phosphorothioate linkages, and the internal DNA sequence can include phosphorothioate internucleotide linkages. The internal DNA sequence is preferably at least five nucleotides in length when targeting by RNAseH activity is desired.
For increased nuclease resistance, an antisense agent can be further modified by inverting the nucleoside at the 3'-terminus with a 3'-3' linkage. In another alternative, the 3'-terminus can be blocked with an aminoalkyl group.
In one embodiment, an antisense oligonucleotide agent includes a modification that improves targeting, e.g. a targeting modification described herein.
Decoy-Type Oligonucleotide Agents
An oligonucleotide agent featured in the invention can be a decoy nucleic acid, e.g., a decoy RNA. A decoy nucleic acid resembles a natural nucleic acid, but is modified in such a way as to inhibit or interrupt the activity of the natural nucleic acid. For example, a decoy RNA can mimic the natural binding domain for a ligand. The decoy RNA therefore competes with natural binding target for the binding of a specific ligand. The natural binding target can be an endogenous nucleic acid, e.g., a pre-miRNA, miRNA, premRNA, mRNA or DNA. For example, it has been shown that over-expression of HIV trans-activation response (TAR) RNA can act as a "decoy" and efficiently bind HIV tat protein, thereby preventing it from binding to TAR sequences encoded in the HIV RNA.
In one embodiment, a decoy RNA includes a modification that improves targeting, e.g. a targeting modification described herein.
The chemical modifications described above for miRNAs and antisense RNAs, and described elsewhere herein, are also appropriate for use in decoy nucleic acids.
Aptamer-Type Oligonucleotide Agents
An oligonucleotide agent featured in the invention can be an aptamer. An aptamer binds to a non-nucleic acid ligand, such as a small organic molecule or protein, e.g., a transcription or translation factor, and subsequently modifies (e.g., inhibits) activity. An aptamer can fold into a specific structure that directs the recognition of the targeted binding site on the non-nucleic acid ligand. An aptamer can contain any of the modifications described herein.
In one embodiment, an aptamer includes a modification that improves targeting, e.g. a targeting modification described herein.
The chemical modifications described above for miRNAs and antisense RNAs, and described elsewhere herein, are also appropriate for use in decoy nucleic acids.
In one aspect, the invention features antagomirs. Antagomirs are single stranded, double stranded, partially double stranded and hairpin structured chemically modified oligonucleotides that target a microRNA.
An antagomir consisting essentially of or comprising at least 12 or more contiguous nucleotides substantially complementary to an endogenous miRNA and more particularly agents that include 12 or more contiguous nucleotides substantially complementary to a target sequence of an miRNA or pre-miRNA nucleotide sequence. Preferably, an antagomir featured in the invention includes a nucleotide sequence sufficiently complementary to hybridize to a miRNA target sequence of about 12 to 25 nucleotides, preferably about 15 to 23 nucleotides. More preferably, the target sequence differs by no more than 1, 2, or 3 nucleotides from a sequence shown in Table 1, and in one embodiment, the antagomir is an agent shown in Table 2a-e. In one embodiment, the antagomir includes a non-nucleotide moiety, e.g., a cholesterol moiety. The non-nucleotide moiety can be attached, e.g., to the 3' or 5' end of the oligonucleotide agent.
In a preferred embodiment, a cholesterol moiety is attached to the 3' end of the oligonucleotide agent.
Antagomirs are stabilized against nucleolytic degradation such as by the incorporation of a modification, e.g., a nucleotide modification. In another embodiment, the antagomir includes a phosphorothioate at at least the first, second, or third internucleotide linkage at the 5' or 3' end of the nucleotide sequence. In yet another embodiment, the antagomir includes a 2'-modified nucleotide, e.g., a 2'-deoxy, 2'-deoxy-2'-fluoro, 2'-O-methyl, 2'-O-methoxyethyl (2'-O-MOE), 2'-O-aminopropyl (2'-O-AP), 2'-O-dimethylaminoethyl (2'-O-DMAOE), 2'-O-dimethylaminopropyl (2'-O-DMAP), 2'-O-dimethylaminoethyloxyethyl (2'-O-DMAEOE), or 2'-O--N-methylacetamido (2'-O-NMA). In a particularly preferred embodiment, the antagomir includes at least one 2'-O-methyl-modified nucleotide, and in some embodiments, all of the nucleotides of the antagomir include a 2'-O-methyl modification.
An antagomir that is substantially complementary to a nucleotide sequence of an miRNA can be delivered to a cell or a human to inhibit or reduce the activity of an endogenous miRNA, such as when aberrant or undesired miRNA activity, or insufficient activity of a target mRNA that hybridizes to the endogenous miRNA, is linked to a disease or disorder. In one embodiment, an antagomir featured in the invention has a nucleotide sequence that is substantially complementary to miR-122 (see Table 1), which hybridizes to numerous RNAs, including aldolase A mRNA, N-myc downstram regulated gene (Ndrg3) mRNA, IQ motif containing GTPase activating protein-1 (Iqgap1) mRNA, HMG-CoA-reductase (Hmgcr) mRNA, and citrate synthase mRNA and others. In a preferred embodiment, the antagomir that is substantially complementary to miR-122 is antagomir-122 (Table 2a-e). Aldolase A deficiencies have been found to be associated with a variety of disorders, including hemolytic anemia, arthrogryposis complex congenita, pituitary ectopia, rhabdomyolysis, hyperkalemia. Humans suffering from aldolase A deficiencies also experience symptoms that include growth and developmental retardation, midfacial hypoplasia, hepatomegaly, as well as myopathic symptoms. Thus a human who has or who is diagnosed as having any of these disorders or symptoms is a candidate to receive treatment with an antagomir that hybridizes to miR-122.
In another embodiment, ribozymes can be used in the liver screening model described herein. Ribozymes are RNA-protein complexes having specific catalytic domains that possess endonuclease activity (Kim and Cech, Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 1987 December; 84(24):8788-92; Forster and Symons, Cell. 1987 Apr. 24; 49(2):211-20). For example, a large number of ribozymes accelerate phosphoester transfer reactions with a high degree of specificity, often cleaving only one of several phosphoesters in an oligonucleotide substrate (Cech et al., Cell. 1981 December; 27(3 Pt 2):487-96; Michel and Westhof, J Mol Biol. 1990 Dec. 5; 216(3):585-610; Reinhold-Hurek and Shub, Nature. 1992 May 14; 357(6374):173-6). This specificity has been attributed to the requirement that the substrate bind via specific base-pairing interactions to the internal guide sequence ("IGS") of the ribozyme prior to chemical reaction.
At least six basic varieties of naturally-occurring enzymatic RNAs are known presently. Each can catalyze the hydrolysis of RNA phosphodiester bonds in trans (and thus can cleave other RNA molecules) under physiological conditions. In general, enzymatic nucleic acids act by first binding to a target RNA. Such binding occurs through the target binding portion of a enzymatic nucleic acid which is held in close proximity to an enzymatic portion of the molecule that acts to cleave the target RNA. Thus, the enzymatic nucleic acid first recognizes and then binds a target RNA through complementary base-pairing, and once bound to the correct site, acts enzymatically to cut the target RNA. Strategic cleavage of such a target RNA will destroy its ability to direct synthesis of an encoded protein. After an enzymatic nucleic acid has bound and cleaved its RNA target, it is released from that RNA to search for another target and can repeatedly bind and cleave new targets.
The enzymatic nucleic acid molecule may be formed in a hammerhead, hairpin, a hepatitis δ virus, group I intron or RNaseP RNA (in association with an RNA guide sequence) or Neurospora VS RNA motif, for example. Specific examples of hammerhead motifs are described by Rossi et al. Nucleic Acids Res. 1992 Sep. 11; 20(17):4559-65. Examples of hairpin motifs are described by Hampel et al. (Eur. Pat. Appl. Publ. No. EP 0360257), Hampel and Tritz, Biochemistry 1989 Jun. 13; 28(12):4929-33; Hampel et al., Nucleic Acids Res. 1990 Jan. 25; 18(2):299-304 and U.S. Pat. No. 5,631,359. An example of the hepatitis δ virus motif is described by Perrotta and Been, Biochemistry. 1992 Dec. 1; 31(47):11843-52; an example of the RNaseP motif is described by Guerrier-Takada et al., Cell. 1983 December; 35(3 Pt 2):849-57; Neurospora VS RNA ribozyme motif is described by Collins (Saville and Collins, Cell. 1990 May 18; 61(4):685-96; Saville and Collins, Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 1991 Oct. 1; 88(19):8826-30; Collins and Olive, Biochemistry. 1993 Mar. 23; 32(11):2795-9); and an example of the Group I intron is described in U.S. Pat. No. 4,987,071 Important characteristics of enzymatic nucleic acid molecules used according to the invention are that they have a specific substrate binding site which is complementary to one or more of the target gene DNA or RNA regions, and that they have nucleotide sequences within or surrounding that substrate binding site which impart an RNA cleaving activity to the molecule. Thus the ribozyme constructs need not be limited to specific motifs mentioned herein.
Methods of producing a ribozyme targeted to any polynucleotide sequence are known in the art. Ribozymes may be designed as described in Int. Pat. Appl. Publ. No. WO 93/23569 and Int. Pat. Appl. Publ. No. WO 94/02595, each specifically incorporated herein by reference, and synthesized to be tested in vitro and in vivo, as described therein.
Ribozyme activity can be optimized by altering the length of the ribozyme binding arms or chemically synthesizing ribozymes with modifications that prevent their degradation by serum ribonucleases (see e.g., Int. Pat. Appl. Publ. No. WO 92/07065; Int. Pat. Appl. Publ. No. WO 93/15187; Int. Pat. Appl. Publ. No. WO 91/03162; Eur. Pat. Appl. Publ. No. 92110298.4; U.S. Pat. No. 5,334,711; and Int. Pat. Appl. Publ. No. WO 94/13688, which describe various chemical modifications that can be made to the sugar moieties of enzymatic RNA molecules), modifications which enhance their efficacy in cells, and removal of stem II bases to shorten RNA synthesis times and reduce chemical requirements.
Nucleic acids for use in the screening model of the present invention may be immunostimulatory, including immunostimulatory oligonucleotides (ISS; single-or double-stranded) capable of inducing an immune response when administered to a subject, which may be a mammal or other patient. ISS include, e.g., certain palindromes leading to hairpin secondary structures (see Yamamoto S., et al. (1992) J. Immunol. 148: 4072-4076), or CpG motifs, as well as other known ISS features (such as multi-G domains, see WO 96/11266).
The immune response may be an innate or an adaptive immune response. The immune system is divided into a more innate immune system, and acquired adaptive immune system of vertebrates, the latter of which is further divided into humoral cellular components. In particular embodiments, the immune response may be mucosal.
In particular embodiments, an immunostimulatory nucleic acid is only immunostimulatory when administered in combination with a lipid particle, and is not immunostimulatory when administered in its "free form." According to the present invention, such an oligonucleotide is considered to be immunostimulatory.
Immunostimulatory nucleic acids are considered to be non-sequence specific when it is not required that they specifically bind to and reduce the expression of a target polynucleotide in order to provoke an immune response. Thus, certain immunostimulatory nucleic acids may comprise a seuqence correspondign to a region of a naturally occurring gene or mRNA, but they may still be considered non-sequence specific immunostimulatory nucleic acids.
In one embodiment, the immunostimulatory nucleic acid or oligonucleotide comprises at least one CpG dinucleotide. The oligonucleotide or CpG dinucleotide may be unmethylated or methylated. In another embodiment, the immunostimulatory nucleic acid comprises at least one CpG dinucleotide having a methylated cytosine. In one embodiment, the nucleic acid comprises a single CpG dinucleotide, wherein the cytosine in said CpG dinucleotide is methylated. In a specific embodiment, the nucleic acid comprises the sequence 5' TAACGTTGAGGGGCAT 3'. In an alternative embodiment, the nucleic acid comprises at least two CpG dinucleotides, wherein at least one cytosine in the CpG dinucleotides is methylated. In a further embodiment, each cytosine in the CpG dinucleotides present in the sequence is methylated. In another embodiment, the nucleic acid comprises a plurality of CpG dinucleotides, wherein at least one of said CpG dinucleotides comprises a methylated cytosine.
Modified Double-Stranded Ribonucleic Acid (dsRNA)
In one embodiment, as described above, the invention provides dsRNA molecules for inhibiting the expression of a gene (e.g., the FVII gene) in a cell or mammal. The skilled person is well aware that dsRNAs including a duplex structure of between 20 and 23, but specifically 21, base pairs have been identified as particularly effective in inducing RNA interference (Elbashir et al., EMBO 2001, 20:6877-6888). However, others have found that shorter or longer dsRNAs can be effective as well. In the embodiments described above, a dsRNA can include at least one strand of a length of minimally 21 nt. It can be reasonably expected that shorter dsRNAs may be similarly effective as compared to the dsRNAs described above. Hence, dsRNAs including a partial sequence of at least 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, or more contiguous nucleotides, and differing in their ability to inhibit the expression of the target gene in a FACS assay as described herein below by not more than 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, or 30% inhibition from a dsRNA including the full sequence, are contemplated by the invention.
In one embodiment, the dsRNA is a dsRNA mimetic where both the sugar and the internucleoside linkage, i.e., the backbone, of the nucleotide units are replaced with novel groups. The base units are maintained for hybridization with an appropriate nucleic acid target compound. One such oligomeric compound, a dsRNA mimetic that has been shown to have excellent hybridization properties, is referred to as a peptide nucleic acid (PNA). In PNA compounds, the sugar backbone of a dsRNA is replaced with an amide containing backbone, in particular an aminoethylglycine backbone. The nucleobases are retained and are bound directly or indirectly to aza nitrogen atoms of the amide portion of the backbone. Representative U.S. patents that teach the preparation of PNA compounds include, but are not limited to, U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,539,082; 5,714,331; and 5,719,262, each of which is herein incorporated by reference. Further teaching of PNA compounds can be found in Nielsen et al., Science, 1991, 254, 1497-1500.
In some embodiments, the dsRNAs have phosphorothioate backbones and oligonucleosides with heteroatom backbones, and in particular --CH2-NH--CH2-, --CH2-N(CH3)-O--CH2-[known as a methylene (methylimino) or MMI backbone], --CH2-O--N(CH3)-CH2-, --CH2-N(CH3)-N(CH3)-CH2- and --N(CH3)-CH2-CH2-[wherein the native phosphodiester backbone is represented as --O--P--O--CH2-] of the above-referenced U.S. Pat. No. 5,489,677, and the amide backbones of the above-referenced U.S. Pat. No. 5,602,240. Also preferred are dsRNAs having morpholino backbone structures of the above-referenced U.S. Pat. No. 5,034,506.
Modified dsRNAs may also contain one or more substituted sugar moieties. Preferred dsRNAs comprise one of the following at the 2' position: OH; F; O--, S--, or N-alkyl; O--, S--, or N-alkenyl; O--, S-- or N-alkynyl; or O-alkyl-O-alkyl, wherein the alkyl, alkenyl and alkynyl may be substituted or unsubstituted C1 to C10 alkyl or C2 to C10 alkenyl and alkynyl. Particularly preferred are O[(CH2)nO]mCH3, O(CH2)nOCH3, O(CH2)nNH2, O(CH2)nCH3, O(CH2)nONH2, and O(CH2)nON[(CH2)nCH3)]2, where n and m are from 1 to about 10. Other preferred dsRNAs comprise one of the following at the 2' position: C1 to C10 lower alkyl, substituted lower alkyl, alkaryl, aralkyl, O-alkaryl or O-aralkyl, SH, SCH3, OCN, Cl, Br, CN, CF3, OCF3, SOCH3, SO2CH3, ONO2, NO2, N3, NH2, heterocycloalkyl, heterocycloalkaryl, aminoalkylamino, polyalkylamino, substituted silyl, an RNA cleaving group, a reporter group, an intercalator, a group for improving the pharmacokinetic properties of an dsRNA, or a group for improving the pharmacodynamic properties of an dsRNA, and other substituents having similar properties. A preferred modification includes 2'-methoxyethoxy (2'-O--CH2CH2OCH3, also known as 2'-O-(2-methoxyethyl) or 2'-MOE) (Martin et al., Hely. Chim Acta, 1995, 78, 486-504) i.e., an alkoxy-alkoxy group. A further preferred modification includes 2'-dimethylaminooxyethoxy, i.e., a O(CH2)2ON(CH3)2 group, also known as 2'-DMAOE, as described in examples hereinbelow, and 2'-dimethylaminoethoxyethoxy (also known in the art as 2'-O-dimethylaminoethoxyethyl or 2'-DMAEOE), i.e., 2'-O--CH2-O--CH2-N(CH2)2, also described in examples hereinbelow.
Other preferred modifications include 2'-methoxy (2'-OCH3), 2'-aminopropoxy (2'-OCH2CH2CH2NH2) and 2'-fluoro (2'-F). Similar modifications may also be made at other positions on the dsRNA, particularly the 3' position of the sugar on the 3' terminal nucleotide or in 2'-5' linked dsRNAs and the 5' position of 5' terminal nucleotide. DsRNAs may also have sugar mimetics such as cyclobutyl moieties in place of the pentofuranosyl sugar. Representative U.S. patents that teach the preparation of such modified sugar structures include, but are not limited to, U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,981,957; 5,118,800; 5,319,080; 5,359,044; 5,393,878; 5,446,137; 5,466,786; 5,514,785; 5,519,134; 5,567,811; 5,576,427; 5,591,722; 5,597,909; 5,610,300; 5,627,053; 5,639,873; 5,646,265; 5,658,873; 5,670,633; and 5,700,920, certain of which are commonly owned with the instant application, and each of which is herein incorporated by reference in its entirety.
DsRNAs may also include nucleobase (often referred to in the art simply as "base") modifications or substitutions. As used herein, "unmodified" or "natural" nucleobases include the purine bases adenine (A) and guanine (G), and the pyrimidine bases thymine (T), cytosine (C) and uracil (U). Modified nucleobases include other synthetic and natural nucleobases such as 5-methylcytosine (5-me-C), 5-hydroxymethyl cytosine, xanthine, hypoxanthine, 2-aminoadenine, 6-methyl and other alkyl derivatives of adenine and guanine, 2-propyl and other alkyl derivatives of adenine and guanine, 2-thiouracil, 2-thiothymine and 2-thiocytosine, 5-halouracil and cytosine, 5-propynyl uracil and cytosine, 6-azo uracil, cytosine and thymine, 5-uracil (pseudouracil), 4-thiouracil, 8-halo, 8-amino, 8-thiol, 8-thioalkyl, 8-hydroxyl anal other 8-substituted adenines and guanines, 5-halo, particularly 5-bromo, 5-trifluoromethyl and other 5-substituted uracils and cytosines, 7-methylguanine and 7-methyladenine, 8-azaguanine and 8-azaadenine, 7-deazaguanine and 7-daazaadenine and 3-deazaguanine and 3-deazaadenine. Further nucleobases include those disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 3,687,808, those disclosed in The Concise Encyclopedia Of Polymer Science And Engineering, pages 858-859, Kroschwitz, J. L, ed. John Wiley & Sons, 1990, these disclosed by Englisch et al., Angewandte Chemie, International Edition, 1991, 30, 613, and those disclosed by Sanghvi, Y S., Chapter 15, DsRNA Research and Applications, pages 289-302, Crooke, S. T. and Lebleu, B., Ed., CRC Press, 1993. Certain of these nucleobases are particularly useful for increasing the binding affinity of the oligomeric compounds of the invention. These include 5-substituted pyrimidines, 6-azapyrimidines and N-2, N-6 and 0-6 substituted purines, including 2-aminopropyladenine, 5-propynyluracil and 5-propynylcytosine. 5-methylcytosine substitutions have been shown to increase nucleic acid duplex stability by 0.6-1.2. degree. C. (Sanghvi, Y. S., Crooke, S. T. and Lebleu, B., Eds., DsRNA Research and Applications, CRC Press, Boca Raton, 1993, pp. 276-278) and are presently preferred base substitutions, even more particularly when combined with 2'-O-methoxyethyl sugar modifications.
Representative U.S. patents that teach the preparation of certain of the above noted modified nucleobases as well as other modified nucleobases include, but are not limited to, the above noted U.S. Pat. No. 3,687,808, as well as U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,845,205; 5,130,30; 5,134,066; 5,175,273; 5,367,066; 5,432,272; 5,457,187; 5,459,255; 5,484,908; 5,502,177; 5,525,711; 5,552,540; 5,587,469; 5,594,121, 5,596,091; 5,614,617; and 5,681,941, each of which is herein incorporated by reference, and U.S. Pat. No. 5,750,692, also herein incorporated by reference.
It is not necessary for all positions in a given compound to be uniformly modified, and in fact more than one of the aforementioned modifications may be incorporated in a single compound or even at a single nucleoside within an dsRNA. The present invention also includes dsRNA compounds which are chimeric compounds. "Chimeric" dsRNA compounds or "chimeras," in the context of this invention, are dsRNA compounds, particularly dsRNAs, which contain two or more chemically distinct regions, each made up of at least one monomer unit, i.e., a nucleotide in the case of a dsRNA compound. These dsRNAs typically contain at least one region wherein the dsRNA is modified so as to confer upon the dsRNA increased resistance to nuclease degradation, increased cellular uptake, and/or increased binding affinity for the target nucleic acid. An additional region of the dsRNA may serve as a substrate for enzymes capable of cleaving RNA:DNA or RNA:RNA hybrids. By way of example, RNase H is a cellular endonuclease which cleaves the RNA strand of an RNA:DNA duplex. Activation of RNase H, therefore, results in cleavage of the RNA target, thereby greatly enhancing the efficiency of dsRNA inhibition of gene expression. Consequently, comparable results can often be obtained with shorter dsRNAs when chimeric dsRNAs are used, compared to phosphorothioate deoxydsRNAs hybridizing to the same target region. Cleavage of the RNA target can be routinely detected by gel electrophoresis and, if necessary, associated nucleic acid hybridization techniques known in the art.
Vector Encoded dsRNAs
A dsRNA for use in the liver screening model featured herein can be expressed from recombinant viral vectors intracellularly in vivo. The recombinant viral vectors of the invention comprise sequences encoding the dsRNA of the invention and any suitable promoter for expressing the dsRNA sequences. Suitable promoters include, for example, the U6 or H1 RNA pol III promoter sequences and the cytomegalovirus promoter. Selection of other suitable promoters is within the skill in the art. The recombinant viral vectors of the invention can also comprise inducible or regulatable promoters for expression of the dsRNA in a particular tissue or in a particular intracellular environment. The use of recombinant viral vectors to deliver dsRNA of the invention to cells in vivo is discussed in more detail below.
dsRNA of the invention can be expressed from a recombinant viral vector either as two separate, complementary RNA molecules, or as a single RNA molecule with two complementary regions.
Any viral vector capable of accepting the coding sequences for the dsRNA molecule(s) to be expressed can be used, for example vectors derived from adenovirus (AV); adeno-associated virus (AAV); retroviruses (e.g, lentiviruses (LV), Rhabdoviruses, murine leukemia virus); herpes virus, and the like. The tropism of viral vectors can be modified by pseudotyping the vectors with envelope proteins or other surface antigens from other viruses, or by substituting different viral capsid proteins, as appropriate.
For example, lentiviral vectors of the invention can be pseudotyped with surface proteins from vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV), rabies, Ebola, Mokola, and the like. AAV vectors of the invention can be made to target different cells by engineering the vectors to express different capsid protein serotypes. For example, an AAV vector expressing a serotype 2 capsid on a serotype 2 genome is called AAV 2/2. This serotype 2 capsid gene in the AAV 2/2 vector can be replaced by a serotype 5 capsid gene to produce an AAV 2/5 vector. Techniques for constructing AAV vectors which express different capsid protein serotypes are within the skill in the art; see, e.g., Rabinowitz J E et al. (2002), J Virol 76:791-801, the entire disclosure of which is herein incorporated by reference.
Selection of suitable recombinant viral vectors, methods for inserting nucleic acid sequences for expressing the dsRNA into the vector, and methods of delivering the viral vector to the cells of interest are within the skill in the art. See, for example, Dornburg R (1995), Gene Therap. 2: 301-310; Eglitis M A (1988), Biotechniques 6: 608-614; Miller A D (1990), Hum Gene Therap. 1: 5-14; Anderson W F (1998), Nature 392: 25-30; and Rubinson D A et al., Nat. Genet. 33: 401-406, the entire disclosures of which are herein incorporated by reference.
Preferred viral vectors are those derived from AV and AAV. In a particularly preferred embodiment, the dsRNA of the invention is expressed as two separate, complementary single-stranded RNA molecules from a recombinant AAV vector including, for example, either the U6 or H1 RNA promoters, or the cytomegalovirus (CMV) promoter.
A suitable AV vector for expressing the dsRNA of the invention, a method for constructing the recombinant AV vector, and a method for delivering the vector into target cells, are described in Xia H et al. (2002), Nat. Biotech. 20: 1006-1010.
Suitable AAV vectors for expressing dsRNAs, methods for constructing the recombinant AV vector, and methods for delivering the vectors into target cells are described in Samulski Ret al. (1987), J. Virol. 61: 3096-3101; Fisher K J et al. (1996), J. Virol, 70: 520-532; Samulski R et al. (1989), J. Virol. 63: 3822-3826; U.S. Pat. No. 5,252,479; U.S. Pat. No. 5,139,941; International Patent Application No. WO 94/13788; and International Patent Application No. WO 93/24641, the entire disclosures of which are herein incorporated by reference.
In one embodiment, the invention provides pharmaceutical compositions comprising a nucleic acid agent identified by the liver screening model described herein. The composition includes the agent, e.g., a dsRNA, and a pharmaceutically acceptable carrier. The pharmaceutical composition is useful for treating a disease or disorder associated with the expression or activity of the gene. Such pharmaceutical compositions are formulated based on the mode of delivery. One example is compositions that are formulated for systemic administration via parenteral delivery.
Pharmaceutical compositions including the identified agent are administered in dosages sufficient to inhibit expression of the target gene, e.g., the Factor VII gene. In general, a suitable dose of dsRNA agent will be in the range of 0.01 to 5.0 milligrams per kilogram body weight of the recipient per day, generally in the range of 1 microgram to 1 mg per kilogram body weight per day. The pharmaceutical composition may be administered once daily, or the dsRNA may be administered as two, three, or more sub-doses at appropriate intervals throughout the day or even using continuous infusion or delivery through a controlled release formulation. In that case, the dsRNA contained in each sub-dose must be correspondingly smaller in order to achieve the total daily dosage. The dosage unit can also be compounded for delivery over several days, e.g., using a conventional sustained release formulation which provides sustained release of the dsRNA over a several day period. Sustained release formulations are well known in the art and are particularly useful for vaginal delivery of agents, such as could be used with the agents of the present invention. In this embodiment, the dosage unit contains a corresponding multiple of the daily dose.
The skilled artisan will appreciate that certain factors may influence the dosage and timing required to effectively treat a subject, including but not limited to the severity of the disease or disorder, previous treatments, the general health and/or age of the subject, and other diseases present. Moreover, treatment of a subject with a therapeutically effective amount of a composition can include a single treatment or a series of treatments. Estimates of effective dosages and in vivo half-lives for the individual dsRNAs encompassed by the invention can be made using conventional methodologies or on the basis of in vivo testing using an appropriate animal model, as described elsewhere herein.
The pharmaceutical compositions containing an agent identified by the liver screening model may be administered in a number of ways depending upon whether local or systemic treatment is desired and upon the area to be treated. Administration may be topical, pulmonary, e.g., by inhalation or insufflation of powders or aerosols, including by nebulizer; intratracheal, intranasal, epidermal and transdermal), oral or parenteral. Admininstration may also be designed to result in preferential localization to particular tissues through local delivery, e.g. by direct intraarticular injection into joints, by rectal administration for direct delivery to the gut and intestines, by intravaginal administration for delivery to the cervix and vagina, by intravitreal administration for delivery to the eye. Parenteral administration includes intravenous, intraarterial, intraarticular, subcutaneous, intraperitoneal or intramuscular injection or infusion; or intracranial, e.g., intrathecal or intraventricular, administration.
Pharmaceutical compositions and formulations for topical administration may include transdermal patches, ointments, lotions, creams, gels, drops, suppositories, sprays, liquids and powders. Conventional pharmaceutical carriers, aqueous, powder or oily bases, thickeners and the like may be necessary or desirable. Coated condoms, gloves and the like may also be useful. Preferred topical formulations include those in which the dsRNAs of the invention are in admixture with a topical delivery component, e.g., a delivery component described herein, such as a lipid, liposome, fatty acid, fatty acid ester, steroid, chelating agent or surfactant. Preferred lipids and liposomes include neutral (e.g. dioleoylphosphatidyl DOPE ethanolamine, dimyristoylphosphatidyl choline DMPC, distearolyphosphatidyl choline) negative (e.g. dimyristoylphosphatidyl glycerol DMPG) and cationic (e.g. dioleoyltetramethylaminopropyl DOTAP and dioleoylphosphatidyl ethanolamine DOTMA). DsRNAs of the invention may be encapsulated within liposomes or may form complexes thereto, in particular to cationic liposomes. Alternatively, dsRNAs may be complexed to lipids, in particular to cationic lipids. Preferred fatty acids and esters include but are not limited arachidonic acid, oleic acid, eicosanoic acid, lauric acid, caprylic acid, capric acid, myristic acid, palmitic acid, stearic acid, linoleic acid, linolenic acid, dicaprate, tricaprate, monoolein, dilaurin, glyceryl 1-monocaprate, 1-dodecylazacycloheptan-2-one, an acylcarnitine, an acylcholine, or a C1-10 alkyl ester (e.g. isopropylmyristate IPM), monoglyceride, diglyceride or pharmaceutically acceptable salt thereof. Topical formulations are described in detail in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/315,298 filed on May 20, 1999 which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.
Compositions and formulations for oral administration include powders or granules, microparticulates, nanoparticulates, suspensions or solutions in water or non-aqueous media, capsules, gel capsules, sachets, tablets or minitablets. Thickeners, flavoring agents, diluents, emulsifiers, dispersing aids or binders may be desirable. Preferred oral formulations are those in which dsRNAs of the invention are administered in conjunction with one or more penetration enhancers surfactants and chelators. Preferred surfactants include fatty acids and/or esters or salts thereof, bile acids and/or salts thereof. Preferred bile acids/salts include chenodeoxycholic acid (CDCA) and ursodeoxychenodeoxycholic acid (UDCA), cholic acid, dehydrocholic acid, deoxycholic acid, glucholic acid, glycholic acid, glycodeoxycholic acid, taurocholic acid, taurodeoxycholic acid, sodium tauro-24,25-dihydro-fusidate and sodium glycodihydrofusidate. Preferred fatty acids include arachidonic acid, undecanoic acid, oleic acid, lauric acid, caprylic acid, capric acid, myristic acid, palmitic acid, stearic acid, linoleic acid, linolenic acid, dicaprate, tricaprate, monoolein, dilaurin, glyceryl 1-monocaprate, 1-dodecylazacycloheptan-2-one, an acylcarnitine, an acylcholine, or a monoglyceride, a diglyceride or a pharmaceutically acceptable salt thereof (e.g. sodium). Also preferred are combinations of penetration enhancers, for example, fatty acids/salts in combination with bile acids/salts. A particularly preferred combination is the sodium salt of lauric acid, capric acid and UDCA. Further penetration enhancers include polyoxyethylene-9-lauryl ether, polyoxyethylene-20-cetyl ether. DsRNAs of the invention may be delivered orally, in granular form including sprayed dried particles, or complexed to form micro or nanoparticles. DsRNA complexing agents include poly-amino acids; polyimines; polyacrylates; polyalkylacrylates, polyoxethanes, polyalkylcyanoacrylates; cationized gelatins, albumins, starches, acrylates, polyethyleneglycols (PEG) and starches; polyalkylcyanoacrylates; DEAE-derivatized polyimines, pollulans, celluloses and starches. Particularly preferred complexing agents include chitosan, N-trimethylchitosan, poly-L-lysine, polyhistidine, polyornithine, polyspermines, protamine, polyvinylpyridine, polythiodiethylaminomethylethylene P(TDAE), polyaminostyrene (e.g. p-amino), poly(methylcyanoacrylate), poly(ethylcyanoacrylate), poly(butylcyanoacrylate), poly(isobutylcyanoacrylate), poly(isohexylcynaoacrylate), DEAE-methacrylate, DEAE-hexylacrylate, DEAE-acrylamide, DEAE-albumin and DEAE-dextran, polymethylacrylate, polyhexylacrylate, poly(D,L-lactic acid), poly(DL-lactic-co-glycolic acid (PLGA), alginate, and polyethyleneglycol (PEG). Oral formulations for dsRNAs and their preparation are described in detail in U.S. application. Ser. No. 08/886,829 (filed Jul. 1, 1997), Ser. No. 09/108,673 (filed Jul. 1, 1998), Ser. No. 09/256,515 (filed Feb. 23, 1999), Ser. No. 09/082,624 (filed May 21, 1998) and Ser. No. 09/315,298 (filed May 20, 1999), each of which is incorporated herein by reference in their entirety.
Compositions and formulations for parenteral, intrathecal or intraventricular administration may include sterile aqueous solutions which may also contain buffers, diluents and other suitable additives such as, but not limited to, penetration enhancers, carrier compounds and other pharmaceutically acceptable carriers or excipients.
Pharmaceutical compositions include, but are not limited to, solutions, emulsions, and liposome-containing formulations. These compositions may be generated from a variety of components that include, but are not limited to, preformed liquids, self-emulsifying solids and self-emulsifying semisolids.
The pharmaceutical formulations, which may conveniently be presented in unit dosage form, may be prepared according to conventional techniques well known in the pharmaceutical industry. Such techniques include the step of bringing into association the active ingredients with the pharmaceutical carrier(s) or excipient(s). In general, the formulations are prepared by uniformly and intimately bringing into association the active ingredients with liquid carriers or finely divided solid carriers or both, and then, if necessary, shaping the product.
The compositions may be formulated into any of many possible dosage forms such as, but not limited to, tablets, capsules, gel capsules, liquid syrups, soft gels, suppositories, and enemas. The compositions of the present invention may also be formulated as suspensions in aqueous, non-aqueous or mixed media. Aqueous suspensions may further contain substances which increase the viscosity of the suspension including, for example, sodium carboxymethylcellulose, sorbitol and/or dextran. The suspension may also contain stabilizers.
In one embodiment of the present invention the pharmaceutical compositions may be formulated and used as foams. Pharmaceutical foams include formulations such as, but not limited to, emulsions, microemulsions, creams, jellies and liposomes. While basically similar in nature these formulations vary in the components and the consistency of the final product. The preparation of such compositions and formulations is generally known to those skilled in the pharmaceutical and formulation arts and may be applied to the formulation of the compositions of the present invention.
The compositions may be prepared and formulated as emulsions. Emulsions are typically heterogenous systems of one liquid dispersed in another in the form of droplets usually exceeding 0.1 μm in diameter (Idson, in Pharmaceutical Dosage Forms, Lieberman, Rieger and Banker (Eds.), 1988, Marcel Dekker, Inc., New York, N.Y., volume 1, p. 199; Rosoff, in Pharmaceutical Dosage Forms, Lieberman, Rieger and Banker (Eds.), 1988, Marcel Dekker, Inc., New York, N.Y., Volume 1, p. 245; Block in Pharmaceutical Dosage Forms, Lieberman, Rieger and Banker (Eds.), 1988, Marcel Dekker, Inc., New York, N.Y., volume 2, p. 335; Higuchi et al., in Remington's Pharmaceutical Sciences, Mack Publishing Co., Easton, Pa., 1985, p. 301). Emulsions are often biphasic systems including two immiscible liquid phases intimately mixed and dispersed with each other. In general, emulsions may be of either the water-in-oil (w/o) or the oil-in-water (o/w) variety. When an aqueous phase is finely divided into and dispersed as minute droplets into a bulk oily phase, the resulting composition is called a water-in-oil (w/o) emulsion. Alternatively, when an oily phase is finely divided into and dispersed as minute droplets into a bulk aqueous phase, the resulting composition is called an oil-in-water (o/w) emulsion. Emulsions may contain additional components in addition to the dispersed phases, and the active drug which may be present as a solution in either the aqueous phase, oily phase or itself as a separate phase. Pharmaceutical excipients such as emulsifiers, stabilizers, dyes, and anti-oxidants may also be present in emulsions as needed. Pharmaceutical emulsions may also be multiple emulsions that are comprised of more than two phases such as, for example, in the case of oil-in-water-in-oil (o/w/o) and water-in-oil-in-water (w/o/w) emulsions. Such complex formulations often provide certain advantages that simple binary emulsions do not. Multiple emulsions in which individual oil droplets of an o/w emulsion enclose small water droplets constitute a w/o/w emulsion. Likewise a system of oil droplets enclosed in globules of water stabilized in an oily continuous phase provides an o/w/o emulsion.
Emulsions are characterized by little or no thermodynamic stability. Often, the dispersed or discontinuous phase of the emulsion is well dispersed into the external or continuous phase and maintained in this form through the means of emulsifiers or the viscosity of the formulation. Either of the phases of the emulsion may be a semisolid or a solid, as is the case of emulsion-style ointment bases and creams. Other means of stabilizing emulsions entail the use of emulsifiers that may be incorporated into either phase of the emulsion. Emulsifiers may broadly be classified into four categories: synthetic surfactants, naturally occurring emulsifiers, absorption bases, and finely dispersed solids (Idson, in Pharmaceutical Dosage Forms, Lieberman, Rieger and Banker (Eds.), 1988, Marcel Dekker, Inc., New York, N.Y., volume 1, p. 199).
Synthetic surfactants, also known as surface active agents, have found wide applicability in the formulation of emulsions and have been reviewed in the literature (Rieger, in Pharmaceutical Dosage Forms, Lieberman, Rieger and Banker (Eds.), 1988, Marcel Dekker, Inc., New York, N.Y., volume 1, p. 285; Idson, in Pharmaceutical Dosage Forms, Lieberman, Rieger and Banker (Eds.), Marcel Dekker, Inc., New York, N.Y., 1988, volume 1, p. 199). Surfactants are typically amphiphilic and comprise a hydrophilic and a hydrophobic portion. The ratio of the hydrophilic to the hydrophobic nature of the surfactant has been termed the hydrophile/lipophile balance (HLB) and is a valuable tool in categorizing and selecting surfactants in the preparation of formulations. Surfactants may be classified into different classes based on the nature of the hydrophilic group: nonionic, anionic, cationic and amphoteric (Rieger, in Pharmaceutical Dosage Forms, Lieberman, Rieger and Banker (Eds.), 1988, Marcel Dekker, Inc., New York, N.Y., volume 1, p. 285).
Naturally occurring emulsifiers used in emulsion formulations include lanolin, beeswax, phosphatides, lecithin and acacia. Absorption bases possess hydrophilic properties such that they can soak up water to form w/o emulsions yet retain their semisolid consistencies, such as anhydrous lanolin and hydrophilic petrolatum. Finely divided solids have also been used as good emulsifiers especially in combination with surfactants and in viscous preparations. These include polar inorganic solids, such as heavy metal hydroxides, nonswelling clays such as bentonite, attapulgite, hectorite, kaolin, montmorillonite, colloidal aluminum silicate and colloidal magnesium aluminum silicate, pigments and nonpolar solids such as carbon or glyceryl tristearate.
A large variety of non-emulsifying materials are also included in emulsion formulations and contribute to the properties of emulsions. These include fats, oils, waxes, fatty acids, fatty alcohols, fatty esters, humectants, hydrophilic colloids, preservatives and antioxidants (Block, in Pharmaceutical Dosage Forms, Lieberman, Rieger and Banker (Eds.), 1988, Marcel Dekker, Inc., New York, N.Y., volume 1, p. 335; Idson, in Pharmaceutical Dosage Forms, Lieberman, Rieger and Banker (Eds.), 1988, Marcel Dekker, Inc., New York, N.Y., volume 1, p. 199).
Hydrophilic colloids or hydrocolloids include naturally occurring gums and synthetic polymers such as polysaccharides (for example, acacia, agar, alginic acid, carrageenan, guar gum, karaya gum, and tragacanth), cellulose derivatives (for example, carboxymethylcellulose and carboxypropylcellulose), and synthetic polymers (for example, carbomers, cellulose ethers, and carboxyvinyl polymers). These disperse or swell in water to form colloidal solutions that stabilize emulsions by forming strong interfacial films around the dispersed-phase droplets and by increasing the viscosity of the external phase.
Since emulsions often contain a number of ingredients such as carbohydrates, proteins, sterols and phosphatides that may readily support the growth of microbes, these formulations often incorporate preservatives. Commonly used preservatives included in emulsion formulations include methyl paraben, propyl paraben, quaternary ammonium salts, benzalkonium chloride, esters of p-hydroxybenzoic acid, and boric acid. Antioxidants are also commonly added to emulsion formulations to prevent deterioration of the formulation. Antioxidants used may be free radical scavengers such as tocopherols, alkyl gallates, butylated hydroxyanisole, butylated hydroxytoluene, or reducing agents such as ascorbic acid and sodium metabisulfite, and antioxidant synergists such as citric acid, tartaric acid, and lecithin.
The application of emulsion formulations via dermatological, oral and parenteral routes and methods for their manufacture have been reviewed in the literature (Idson, in Pharmaceutical Dosage Forms, Lieberman, Rieger and Banker (Eds.), 1988, Marcel Dekker, Inc., New York, N.Y., volume 1, p. 199). Emulsion formulations for oral delivery have been very widely used because of ease of formulation, as well as efficacy from an absorption and bioavailability standpoint (Rosoff, in Pharmaceutical Dosage Forms, Lieberman, Rieger and Banker (Eds.), 1988, Marcel Dekker, Inc., New York, N.Y., volume 1, p. 245; Idson, in Pharmaceutical Dosage Forms, Lieberman, Rieger and Banker (Eds.), 1988, Marcel Dekker, Inc., New York, N.Y., volume 1, p. 199). Mineral-oil base laxatives, oil-soluble vitamins and high fat nutritive preparations are among the materials that have commonly been administered orally as o/w emulsions.
In one embodiment of the present invention, the compositions of dsRNAs and nucleic acids are formulated as microemulsions. A microemulsion may be defined as a system of water, oil and amphiphile which is a single optically isotropic and thermodynamically stable liquid solution (Rosoff, in Pharmaceutical Dosage Forms, Lieberman, Rieger and Banker (Eds.), 1988, Marcel Dekker, Inc., New York, N.Y., volume 1, p. 245). Typically microemulsions are systems that are prepared by first dispersing an oil in an aqueous surfactant solution and then adding a sufficient amount of a fourth component, generally an intermediate chain-length alcohol to form a transparent system. Therefore, microemulsions have also been described as thermodynamically stable, isotropically clear dispersions of two immiscible liquids that are stabilized by interfacial films of surface-active molecules (Leung and Shah, in: Controlled Release of Drugs: Polymers and Aggregate Systems, Rosoff, M., Ed., 1989, VCH Publishers, New York, pages 185-215). Microemulsions commonly are prepared via a combination of three to five components that include oil, water, surfactant, cosurfactant and electrolyte. Whether the microemulsion is of the water-in-oil (w/o) or an oil-in-water (o/w) type is dependent on the properties of the oil and surfactant used and on the structure and geometric packing of the polar heads and hydrocarbon tails of the surfactant molecules (Schott, in Remington's Pharmaceutical Sciences, Mack Publishing Co., Easton, Pa., 1985, p. 271).
The phenomenological approach utilizing phase diagrams has been extensively studied and has yielded a comprehensive knowledge, to one skilled in the art, of how to formulate microemulsions (Rosoff, in Pharmaceutical Dosage Forms, Lieberman, Rieger and Banker (Eds.), 1988, Marcel Dekker, Inc., New York, N.Y., volume 1, p. 245; Block, in Pharmaceutical Dosage Forms, Lieberman, Rieger and Banker (Eds.), 1988, Marcel Dekker, Inc., New York, N.Y., volume 1, p. 335). Compared to conventional emulsions, microemulsions offer the advantage of solubilizing water-insoluble drugs in a formulation of thermodynamically stable droplets that are formed spontaneously.
Surfactants used in the preparation of microemulsions include, but are not limited to, ionic surfactants, non-ionic surfactants, Brij 96, polyoxyethylene oleyl ethers, polyglycerol fatty acid esters, tetraglycerol monolaurate (ML310), tetraglycerol monooleate (MO310), hexaglycerol monooleate (PO310), hexaglycerol pentaoleate (PO500), decaglycerol monocaprate (MCA750), decaglycerol monooleate (MO750), decaglycerol sequioleate (SO750), decaglycerol decaoleate (DAO750), alone or in combination with cosurfactants. The cosurfactant, usually a short-chain alcohol such as ethanol, 1-propanol, and 1-butanol, serves to increase the interfacial fluidity by penetrating into the surfactant film and consequently creating a disordered film because of the void space generated among surfactant molecules. Microemulsions may, however, be prepared without the use of cosurfactants and alcohol-free self-emulsifying microemulsion systems are known in the art. The aqueous phase may typically be, but is not limited to, water, an aqueous solution of the drug, glycerol, PEG300, PEG400, polyglycerols, propylene glycols, and derivatives of ethylene glycol. The oil phase may include, but is not limited to, materials such as Captex 300, Captex 355, Capmul MCM, fatty acid esters, medium chain (C8-C12) mono, di, and tri-glycerides, polyoxyethylated glyceryl fatty acid esters, fatty alcohols, polyglycolized glycerides, saturated polyglycolized C8-C10 glycerides, vegetable oils and silicone oil.
Microemulsions are particularly of interest from the standpoint of drug solubilization and the enhanced absorption of drugs. Lipid based microemulsions (both o/w and w/o) have been proposed to enhance the oral bioavailability of drugs, including peptides (Constantinides et al., Pharmaceutical Research, 1994, 11, 1385-1390; Ritschel, Meth. Find. Exp. Clin. Pharmacol., 1993, 13, 205). Microemulsions afford advantages of improved drug solubilization, protection of drug from enzymatic hydrolysis, possible enhancement of drug absorption due to surfactant-induced alterations in membrane fluidity and permeability, ease of preparation, ease of oral administration over solid dosage forms, improved clinical potency, and decreased toxicity (Constantinides et al., Pharmaceutical Research, 1994, 11, 1385; Ho et al., J. Pharm. Sci., 1996, 85, 138-143). Often microemulsions may form spontaneously when their components are brought together at ambient temperature. This may be particularly advantageous when formulating thermolabile drugs, peptides or dsRNAs. Microemulsions have also been effective in the transdermal delivery of active components in both cosmetic and pharmaceutical applications. It is expected that the microemulsion compositions and formulations of the present invention will facilitate the increased systemic absorption of dsRNAs and nucleic acids from the gastrointestinal tract, as well as improve the local cellular uptake of dsRNAs and nucleic acids within the gastrointestinal tract, vagina, buccal cavity and other areas of administration.
Microemulsions of the present invention may also contain additional components and additives such as sorbitan monostearate (Grill 3), Labrasol, and penetration enhancers to improve the properties of the formulation and to enhance the absorption of the dsRNAs and nucleic acids of the present invention. Penetration enhancers used in the microemulsions of the present invention may be classified as belonging to one of five broad categories--surfactants, fatty acids, bile salts, chelating agents, and non-chelating non-surfactants (Lee et al., Critical Reviews in Therapeutic Drug Carrier Systems, 1991, p. 92). Each of these classes has been discussed above.
Surfactants find wide application in formulations such as emulsions (including microemulsions) and liposomes. The most common way of classifying and ranking the properties of the many different types of surfactants, both natural and synthetic, is by the use of the hydrophile/lipophile balance (HLB). The nature of the hydrophilic group (also known as the "head") provides the most useful means for categorizing the different surfactants used in formulations (Rieger, in Pharmaceutical Dosage Forms, Marcel Dekker, Inc., New York, N.Y., 1988, p. 285).
If the surfactant molecule is not ionized, it is classified as a nonionic surfactant. Nonionic surfactants find wide application in pharmaceutical and cosmetic products and are usable over a wide range of pH values. In general their HLB values range from 2 to about 18 depending on their structure. Nonionic surfactants include nonionic esters such as ethylene glycol esters, propylene glycol esters, glyceryl esters, polyglyceryl esters, sorbitan esters, sucrose esters, and ethoxylated esters. Nonionic alkanolamides and ethers such as fatty alcohol ethoxylates, propoxylated alcohols, and ethoxylated/propoxylated block polymers are also included in this class. The polyoxyethylene surfactants are the most popular members of the nonionic surfactant class.
If the surfactant molecule carries a negative charge when it is dissolved or dispersed in water, the surfactant is classified as anionic. Anionic surfactants include carboxylates such as soaps, acyl lactylates, acyl amides of amino acids, esters of sulfuric acid such as alkyl sulfates and ethoxylated alkyl sulfates, sulfonates such as alkyl benzene sulfonates, acyl isethionates, acyl taurates and sulfosuccinates, and phosphates. The most important members of the anionic surfactant class are the alkyl sulfates and the soaps.
If the surfactant molecule carries a positive charge when it is dissolved or dispersed in water, the surfactant is classified as cationic. Cationic surfactants include quaternary ammonium salts and ethoxylated amines. The quaternary ammonium salts are the most used members of this class.
If the surfactant molecule has the ability to carry either a positive or negative charge, the surfactant is classified as amphoteric. Amphoteric surfactants include acrylic acid derivatives, substituted alkylamides, N-alkylbetaines and phosphatides.
The use of surfactants in drug products, formulations and in emulsions has been reviewed (Rieger, in Pharmaceutical Dosage Forms, Marcel Dekker, Inc., New York, N.Y., 1988, p. 285).
In one embodiment, the present invention employs various penetration enhancers to effect the efficient delivery of nucleic acids, particularly dsRNAs, to the skin of animals. Most drugs are present in solution in both ionized and nonionized forms. However, usually only lipid soluble or lipophilic drugs readily cross cell membranes. It has been discovered that even non-lipophilic drugs may cross cell membranes if the membrane to be crossed is treated with a penetration enhancer. In addition to aiding the diffusion of non-lipophilic drugs across cell membranes, penetration enhancers also enhance the permeability of lipophilic drugs.
Penetration enhancers may be classified as belonging to one of five broad categories, i.e., surfactants, fatty acids, bile salts, chelating agents, and non-chelating non-surfactants (Lee et al., Critical Reviews in Therapeutic Drug Carrier Systems, 1991, p. 92). Each of the above mentioned classes of penetration enhancers are described below in greater detail.
Surfactants: In connection with the present invention, surfactants (or "surface-active agents") are chemical entities which, when dissolved in an aqueous solution, reduce the surface tension of the solution or the interfacial tension between the aqueous solution and another liquid, with the result that absorption of dsRNAs through the mucosa is enhanced. In addition to bile salts and fatty acids, these penetration enhancers include, for example, sodium lauryl sulfate, polyoxyethylene-9-lauryl ether and polyoxyethylene-20-cetyl ether) (Lee et al., Critical Reviews in Therapeutic Drug Carrier Systems, 1991, p. 92); and perfluorochemical emulsions, such as FC-43. Takahashi et al., J. Pharm. Pharmacol., 1988, 40, 252).
Fatty acids: Various fatty acids and their derivatives which act as penetration enhancers include, for example, oleic acid, lauric acid, capric acid (n-decanoic acid), myristic acid, palmitic acid, stearic acid, linoleic acid, linolenic acid, dicaprate, tricaprate, monoolein (1-monooleoyl-rac-glycerol), dilaurin, caprylic acid, arachidonic acid, glycerol 1-monocaprate, 1-dodecylazacycloheptan-2-one, acylcarnitines, acylcholines, C1-10 alkyl esters thereof (e.g., methyl, isopropyl and t-butyl), and mono- and di-glycerides thereof (i.e., oleate, laurate, caprate, myristate, palmitate, stearate, linoleate, etc.) (Lee et al., Critical Reviews in Therapeutic Drug Carryier Systems, 1991, p. 92; Muranishi, Critical Reviews in Therapeutic Drug Carrier Systems, 1990, 7, 1-33; El Hariri et al., J. Pharm. Pharmacol., 1992, 44, 651-654).
Bile salts: The physiological role of bile includes the facilitation of dispersion and absorption of lipids and fat-soluble vitamins (Brunton, Chapter 38 in: Goodman & Gilman's The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics, 9th Ed., Hardman et al. Eds., McGraw-Hill, New York, 1996, pp. 934-935). Various natural bile salts, and their synthetic derivatives, act as penetration enhancers. Thus the term "bile salts" includes any of the naturally occurring components of bile as well as any of their synthetic derivatives. The bile salts of the invention include, for example, cholic acid (or its pharmaceutically acceptable sodium salt, sodium cholate), dehydrocholic acid (sodium dehydrocholate), deoxycholic acid (sodium deoxycholate), glucholic acid (sodium glucholate), glycholic acid (sodium glycocholate), glycodeoxycholic acid (sodium glycodeoxycholate), taurocholic acid (sodium taurocholate), taurodeoxycholic acid (sodium taurodeoxycholate), chenodeoxycholic acid (sodium chenodeoxycholate), ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA), sodium tauro-24,25-dihydro-fusidate (STDHF), sodium glycodihydrofusidate and polyoxyethylene-9-lauryl ether (POE) (Lee et al., Critical Reviews in Therapeutic Drug Carrier Systems, 1991, page 92; Swinyard, Chapter 39 In: Remington's Pharmaceutical Sciences, 18th Ed., Gennaro, ed., Mack Publishing Co., Easton, Pa., 1990, pages 782-783; Muranishi, Critical Reviews in Therapeutic Drug Carrier Systems, 1990, 7, 1-33; Yamamoto et al., J. Pharm. Exp. Ther., 1992, 263, 25; Yamashita et al., J. Pharm. Sci., 1990, 79, 579-583).
Chelating Agents: Chelating agents, as used in connection with the present invention, can be defined as compounds that remove metallic ions from solution by forming complexes therewith, with the result that absorption of dsRNAs through the mucosa is enhanced. With regards to their use as penetration enhancers in the present invention, chelating agents have the added advantage of also serving as DNase inhibitors, as most characterized DNA nucleases require a divalent metal ion for catalysis and are thus inhibited by chelating agents (Jarrett, J. Chromatogr., 1993, 618, 315-339). Chelating agents of the invention include but are not limited to disodium ethylenediaminetetraacetate (EDTA), citric acid, salicylates (e.g., sodium salicylate, 5-methoxysalicylate and homovanilate), N-acyl derivatives of collagen, laureth-9 and N-amino acyl derivatives of beta-diketones (enamines)(Lee et al., Critical Reviews in Therapeutic Drug Carrier Systems, 1991, page 92; Muranishi, Critical Reviews in Therapeutic Drug Carrier Systems, 1990, 7, 1-33; Buur et al., J. Control Rel., 1990, 14, 43-51).
Non-chelating non-surfactants: As used herein, non-chelating non-surfactant penetration enhancing compounds can be defined as compounds that demonstrate insignificant activity as chelating agents or as surfactants but that nonetheless enhance absorption of dsRNAs through the alimentary mucosa (Muranishi, Critical Reviews in Therapeutic Drug Carrier Systems, 1990, 7, 1-33). This class of penetration enhancers include, for example, unsaturated cyclic ureas, 1-alkyl- and 1-alkenylazacyclo-alkanone derivatives (Lee et al., Critical Reviews in Therapeutic Drug Carrier Systems, 1991, page 92); and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents such as diclofenac sodium, indomethacin and phenylbutazone (Yamashita et al., J. Pharm. Pharmacol., 1987, 39, 621-626).
Agents that enhance uptake of dsRNAs at the cellular level may also be added to the pharmaceutical and other compositions of the present invention. For example, cationic lipids, such as lipofectin (Junichi et al, U.S. Pat. No. 5,705,188), cationic glycerol derivatives, and polycationic molecules, such as polylysine (Lollo et al., PCT Application WO 97/30731), are also known to enhance the cellular uptake of dsRNAs.
Other agents may be utilized to enhance the penetration of the administered nucleic acids, including glycols such as ethylene glycol and propylene glycol, pyrrols such as 2-pyrrol, azones, and terpenes such as limonene and menthone.
Certain compositions of the present invention also incorporate carrier compounds in the formulation. As used herein, "carrier compound" or "carrier" can refer to a nucleic acid, or analog thereof, which is inert (i.e., does not possess biological activity per se) but is recognized as a nucleic acid by in vivo processes that reduce the bioavailability of a nucleic acid having biological activity by, for example, degrading the biologically active nucleic acid or promoting its removal from circulation. The coadministration of a nucleic acid and a carrier compound, typically with an excess of the latter substance, can result in a substantial reduction of the amount of nucleic acid recovered in the liver, kidney or other extracirculatory reservoirs, presumably due to competition between the carrier compound and the nucleic acid for a common receptor. For example, the recovery of a partially phosphorothioate dsRNA in hepatic tissue can be reduced when it is coadministered with polyinosinic acid, dextran sulfate, polycytidic acid or 4-acetamido-4'isothiocyano-stilbene-2,2'-disulfonic acid (Miyao et al., DsRNA Res. Dev., 1995, 5, 115-121; Takakura et al., DsRNA & Nucl. Acid Drug Dev., 1996, 6, 177-183.
In contrast to a carrier compound, a "pharmaceutical carrier" or "excipient" is a pharmaceutically acceptable solvent, suspending agent or any other pharmacologically inert component for delivering one or more nucleic acids to an animal. The excipient may be liquid or solid and is selected, with the planned manner of administration in mind, so as to provide for the desired bulk, consistency, etc., when combined with a nucleic acid and the other components of a given pharmaceutical composition. Typical pharmaceutical carriers include, but are not limited to, binding agents (e.g., pregelatinized maize starch, polyvinylpyrrolidone or hydroxypropyl methylcellulose, etc.); fillers (e.g., lactose and other sugars, microcrystalline cellulose, pectin, gelatin, calcium sulfate, ethyl cellulose, polyacrylates or calcium hydrogen phosphate, etc.); lubricants (e.g., magnesium stearate, talc, silica, colloidal silicon dioxide, stearic acid, metallic stearates, hydrogenated vegetable oils, corn starch, polyethylene glycols, sodium benzoate, sodium acetate, etc.); disintegrants (e.g., starch, sodium starch glycolate, etc.); and wetting agents (e.g., sodium lauryl sulphate, etc).
Pharmaceutically acceptable organic or inorganic excipient suitable for non-parenteral administration which do not deleteriously react with nucleic acids can also be used to formulate the compositions of the present invention. Suitable pharmaceutically acceptable carriers include, but are not limited to, water, salt solutions, alcohols, polyethylene glycols, gelatin, lactose, amylose, magnesium stearate, talc, silicic acid, viscous paraffin, hydroxymethylcellulose, polyvinylpyrrolidone and the like.
Formulations for topical administration of nucleic acids may include sterile and non-sterile aqueous solutions, non-aqueous solutions in common solvents such as alcohols, or solutions of the nucleic acids in liquid or solid oil bases. The solutions may also contain buffers, diluents and other suitable additives. Pharmaceutically acceptable organic or inorganic excipients suitable for non-parenteral administration which do not deleteriously react with nucleic acids can be used.
Suitable pharmaceutically acceptable excipients include, but are not limited to, water, salt solutions, alcohol, polyethylene glycols, gelatin, lactose, amylose, magnesium stearate, talc, silicic acid, viscous paraffin, hydroxymethylcellulose, polyvinylpyrrolidone and the like.
The compositions of the present invention may additionally contain other adjunct components conventionally found in pharmaceutical compositions, at their art-established usage levels. Thus, for example, the compositions may contain additional, compatible, pharmaceutically-active materials such as, for example, antipruritics, astringents, local anesthetics or anti-inflammatory agents, or may contain additional materials useful in physically formulating various dosage forms of the compositions of the present invention, such as dyes, flavoring agents, preservatives, antioxidants, opacifiers, thickening agents and stabilizers. However, such materials, when added, should not unduly interfere with the biological activities of the components of the compositions of the present invention. The formulations can be sterilized and, if desired, mixed with auxiliary agents, e.g., lubricants, preservatives, stabilizers, wetting agents, emulsifiers, salts for influencing osmotic pressure, buffers, colorings, flavorings and/or aromatic substances and the like which do not deleteriously interact with the nucleic acid(s) of the formulation.
Aqueous suspensions may contain substances which increase the viscosity of the suspension including, for example, sodium carboxymethylcellulose, sorbitol and/or dextran. The suspension may also contain stabilizers.
Certain embodiments of the invention provide pharmaceutical compositions containing (a) one or more dsRNA molecules and (b) one or more other therapeutic agents which function by a non-dsRNA-mediated mechanism. For example, the one or more other therapeutic agents include anticoagulants. Exemplary anticoagulants include, e.g., Warfarin (COUMADIN®); LMWH (Low Molecular Weight Heparins); factor Xa inhibitors, e.g, bisamidine compounds, and phenyl and naphthylsulfonamides; unfractionated heparin; aspirin; and platelet glycoprotein IIb/IIIa blockers.
Toxicity and therapeutic efficacy of such compounds can be determined by standard pharmaceutical procedures in cell cultures or experimental animals, e.g., for determining the LD50 (the dose lethal to 50% of the population) and the ED50 (the dose therapeutically effective in 50% of the population). The dose ratio between toxic and therapeutic effects is the therapeutic index and it can be expressed as the ratio LD50/ED50. Compounds which exhibit high therapeutic indices are preferred.
The data obtained from cell culture assays and animal studies can be used in formulation a range of dosage for use in humans. The dosage of compositions of the invention lies generally within a range of circulating concentrations that include the ED50 with little or no toxicity. The dosage may vary within this range depending upon the dosage form employed and the route of administration utilized. For any compound used in the method of the invention, the therapeutically effective dose can be estimated initially from cell culture assays. A dose may be formulated in animal models to achieve a circulating plasma concentration range of the compound or, when appropriate, of the polypeptide product of a target sequence (e.g., achieving a decreased concentration of the polypeptide) that includes the IC50 (i.e., the concentration of the test compound which achieves a half-maximal inhibition of symptoms) as determined in cell culture. Such information can be used to more accurately determine useful doses in humans. Levels in plasma may be measured, for example, by high performance liquid chromatography.
In addition to their administration individually or as a plurality, as discussed above, the dsRNAs of the invention can be administered in combination with other known agents effective in treatment of pathological processes mediated by Factor VII expression. In any event, the administering physician can adjust the amount and timing of dsRNA administration on the basis of results observed using standard measures of efficacy known in the art or described herein.
This invention is not limited in its application to the details of construction and the arrangement of components set forth in the description. The invention is capable of other embodiments and of being practiced or of being carried out in various ways. Also, the phraseology and terminology used herein is for the purpose of description and should not be regarded as limiting. The use of "including," "comprising," or "having," "containing", "involving", and variations thereof herein, is meant to encompass the items listed thereafter and equivalents thereof as well as additional items.
In vivo rodent Factor VII silencing experiments. C57BL/6 mice (Charles River Labs, MA) and Sprague-Dawley rats (Charles River Labs, MA) receive either saline or formulated siRNA via tail vein injection at a volume of 0.01 mL/g At various time points after administration, serum samples are collected by retroorbital bleed. Serum levels of Factor VII protein are determined in samples using a chromogenic assay (Biophen FVII, Aniara Corporation, OH). To determine liver mRNA levels of Factor VII, animals are sacrificed and livers are harvested and snap frozen in liquid nitrogen. Tissue lysates are prepared from the frozen tissues and liver mRNA levels of Factor VII are quantified using a branched DNA assay (QuantiGene Assay, Panomics, Calif.).
Regulation of mammalian gene expression using nucleic acid-lipid particles. Factor VII (FVII), a prominent protein in the coagulation cascade, is synthesized in the liver (hepatocytes) and secreted into the plasma. FVII levels in plasma can be determined by a simple, plate-based colorimetric assay. As such, FVII represents a convenient model for determining siRNA-mediated downregulation of hepatocyte-derived proteins, as well as monitoring plasma concentrations and tissue distribution of the nucleic acid lipid particles and siRNA.
Factor VII Knockdown in Mice
FVII activity can be evaluated in FVII siRNA-treated animals at 24 hours after intravenous (bolus) injection in C57BL/6 mice. FVII can be measured using a commercially available kit for detection of proteins in serum or tissuefollowing the manufacturer's instructions at a microplate scale. FVII reduction can be determined against untreated control mice, and the results expressed as % Residual FVII. Four dose levels (2, 5, 12.5, 25 mg/kg FVII siRNA) can be used in the initial screen of each novel liposome composition, and this dosing can be expanded in subsequent studies based on the results obtained in the initial screen.
Determination of Tolerability
The tolerability of each novel liposomal siRNA formulation can be evaluated by monitoring weight change, cageside observations, clinical chemistry and, in some instances, hematology. Animal weights are recorded prior to treatment and at 24 hours after treatment. Data is recorded as % Change in Body Weight. In addition to body weight measurements, a full clinical chemistry panel, including liver function markers, can be obtained at each dose level (2, 5, 12.5 and 25 mg/kg siRNA) at 24 hours post-injection using an aliquot of the serum collected for FVII analysis. Samples can be sent to the Central Laboratory for Veterinarians (Langley, BC) for analysis. Additional mice can be included in the treatment group to allow collection of whole blood for hematology analysis.
Determination of Therapeutic Index
Therapeutic index (TI) is an arbitrary parameter generated by comparing measures of toxicity and activity. For these studies, TI can be determined as:
TI=MTD(maximum tolerated dose)/ED50 (dose for 50% FVII knockdown)
The MTD for these studies can be set as the lowest dose causing >7% decrease in body weight and a >200-fold increase in alanine aminotransferase (ALT), a clinical chemistry marker with good specificity for liver damage in rodents. The ED50 can be determined from FVII dose-activity curves.
Determination of siRNA Plasma Levels
Plasma levels of Cy3 fluorescence can be evaluated at 0.5 and 3 h post-IV injection in C57BL/6 mice using a fluorescently labeled siRNA (Cy-3 labeled luciferase siRNA). The measurements can be done by first extracting the Cy3-siRNA from the protein-containing biological matrix and then analyzing the amount of Cy-3 label in the extract by fluorescence. Blood is collected in EDTA-containing Vacutainer tubes and centrifuged at 2500 rpm for 10 min at 2-8° C. to isolate the plasma. The plasma is transferred to an Eppendorf tube and either assayed immediately or stored in a -30° C. freezer. An aliquot of the plasma (100 μL maximum) is diluted to 500 μL with PBS (145 mM NaCl, 10 mM phosphate, pH 7.5), then methanol (1.05 mL) and chloroform (0.5 mL) added, and the sample vortexed to obtain a clear, single phase solution. Additional water (0.5 mL) and chloroform (0.5 mL) is added and the resulting emulsion sustained by mixing periodically for a minimum of 3 minutes. The mixture is centrifuged at 3000 rpm for 20 minutes and the aqueous (top) phase containing the Cy-3-label is transferred to a new tube. The fluorescence of the solution is measured using an SLM Fluorimeter at an excitation wavelength of 550 nm (2 nm bandwidth) and emission wavelength of 600 nm (16 nm bandwidth). A standard curve is generated by spiking aliquots of plasma from untreated animals with the formulation containing Cy-3-siRNA (0 to 15 μg/mL) and the sample processed as indicated above. Data is expressed as Plasma Cy-3 concentration (μg/mL).
Determination of siRNA Biodistribution
Tissue (liver and spleen) levels of Cy3 fluorescence are evaluated at 0.5 and 3 h post-IV injection in C57BL/6 mice for each novel liposomal siRNA formulation. One portion of each tissue is analyzed for total fluorescence after a commercial phenol/chloroform (Trizol® reagent) extraction, while the other portion is evaluated by confocal microscopy to assess intracellular delivery. Upon collection, each tissue is weighed and divided into 2 pieces.
Sections (400-500 mg) of liver obtained from saline-perfused animals are accurately weighed into Fastprep tubes and homogenized in 1 mL of Trizol using a Fastprep FP120 instrument. An aliquot of the homogenate (typically equivalent to 50 mg of tissue) is transferred to an Eppendorf tube and additional Trizol is added to achieve 1 mL final volume. Chloroform (0.2 mL) is added and the solution mixed and incubated for 2-3 min before being centrifuged for 15 min at 12 000×g. An aliquot (0.5 mL) of the aqueous (top) phase containing Cy3 is diluted with 0.5 mL of PBS and the fluorescence of the sample measured as described above.
Spleens from saline-perfused treated animals are homogenized in 1 mL of Trizol using Fastprep tubes. Chloroform (0.2 mL) is added to the homogenate, incubated for 2-3 min and centrifuged for 15 min at 12 000×g at 2-8° C. An aliquot of the top aqueous phase is diluted with 0.5 mL of PBS and the fluorescence of the sample measured as described above. The data is expressed as the % of the Injected Dose (in each tissue) and Tissue Cy-3 Concentration (μg/mL).
In preparation for confocal microscopy, whole or portions of tissues recovered from saline-perfused animals are fixed in commercial 10% neutral-buffered formalin. Tissues are rinsed in PBS, pH 7.5 and dissected according to RENI Guide to Organ Trimming, available on the worldwide web at item.fraunhofer.de/reni/trimming/index.php. The specimens are placed cut side down in molds filled with HistoPrep (Fisher Scientific, Ottawa ON, SH75-125D) and frozen in 2-methylbutane that had been cooled in liquid Nitrogen until the equilibration point is reached. Next, the frozen blocks are fastened to the cryomicrotome (CM 1900; Leica Instruments, Germany) in the cryochamber (-18° C.) and trimmed with a disposable stainless steel blade (Feather S35, Fisher Scientific, Ottawa ON), having a clearance angle of 2.5°. The sample is then cut at 10 μm thickness and collected on to Superfrost/Plus slides (Fisher Scientific, Ottawa ON, 12-550-15) and dried at room temperature for 1 minute and stored at -20° C. Slides are rinsed 3 times in PBS to remove HistoPrep, mounted with Vectorshield hard set (Vector Laboratories, Inc. Burlingame Calif., H-1400) and frozen pending microscopy analysis. In some instances, TOTO-3 (1:10,000 dilution) is used to stain nuclei.
Fluorescence is visualized and images are captured using a Nikon immunofluorescence confocal microscope C1 at 10× and 60× magnifications using the 488-nm (green) 568-nm (red) and 633-nm (blue) laser lines for excitation of the appropriate fluorochromes. Raw data are imported using ImageJ.1.37v to select and generate Z-stacked multiple (2-3) slices, and Adobe Photoshop 9.0 to merge images captured upon excitation of fluorochromes obtained different channels.
Having thus described several aspects of at least one embodiment of this invention, it is to be appreciated various alterations, modifications, and improvements will readily occur to those skilled in the art. Such alterations, modifications, and improvements are intended to be part of this disclosure, and are intended to be within the spirit and scope of the invention. Accordingly, the foregoing description and drawings are by way of example only.
1116DNAArtificial Sequencesource/note="Description of Artificial Sequence Synthetic oligonucleotide" 1taacgttgag gggcat 16
Patent applications by Akin Akinc, Needham, MA US
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